Thursday, January 5, 2012

Totalitarianism or Imperialism: Who's to Blame for Cuba's Lack of Open Access to the Internet? (UPDATE)

Or I guess you could blame them both.  After all, blaming one (the Dictator's Dilemma and the Internal Embargo) should not require us to acquit the other (the Digital Divide and the U.S. Embargo).

You can follow these links for some useful background on the related, competing concepts of the Dictator's Dilemma (Larry Press, BoasTechnosociology, BrookingsHillary on China) and the Digital Divide (Wikipedia, DDN, Edutopia, and Pew Rx Center).

In the past 24 hours a new and quite provocative polemic has erupted about who's to blame for Cuba's lack of open access to the Internet between Havana NPR/Global Post foreign correspondent Nick Miroff on one side with his December 14, 2011 NPR story, "In Cuba, Dial Up Internet is a Luxury."

On the other side are Sue Ashdown and Nelson P. Valdés with their Counterpunch article from yesterday, January 5, 2012, "The Ethnocentric Demand Made of Cuba: Cuba, the Embargo and the Digital Divide."

My friend and colleague Arturo Lopez-Levy seems to be acting as unofficial moderator of this debate, making the following point:

Sue Ashdown and Nelson P. Valdés give some context to the discussion about access to Internet in Cuba. I will add that the so-called democracy programs' intent is to provide selective access to the Internet to the opposition with the purpose of regime change. I think that anybody who is really in favor of universal access to the Internet should denounce any restriction imposed by any government. I understand most of the complaints against the Cuban government's restrictions to access to internet. Ted Henken has pointed out some of these problems. At the same time, I believe it is not politically or academically honest to ignore the reasons and arguments pointed out by Ashdown and Valdés in this piece.

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