[OPE] Latin America, lethal for young people.

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date: Sat Nov 29 2008 - 20:13:12 EST

I defend Alejandro Agofonow's right to say what he has to say, provided he respects list protocol. I would however point out that censorship is not at all something specifically "Stalinist". There is a degree of formal censorship in most Western countries as well, and the media empires are not averse to editing out important information.

Crime rates in Cuba are by all accounts comparatively low, though reliable data is hard to get. Young Cubans 16+ can be conscripted to a stint of either military service, or service with the national police. Estimates of the number of prison detainees range from 55,000 to 100,000, but the number of political prisoners is actually very small. The "Stalinist" aspect presumably refers to the limited ability to publicly express political dissent in Cuba, and the lack of an independent press, with harsh penalties for "enemy propaganda" somewhat vaguely defined (decreed in the context of persistent US aggression, subversion and boycotts).

Cuban communications minister Ramiro Valdes said last year that if only few Cubans (i.e. about 2%) were online, this was due to a US embargo that prevented Cuba from have decent Internet connections. In Reporters Without Borders' view, it is in fact due to the Cuban government's desire to control the flow of information throughout the country.

I guess that whether Cuba will catch up with the modern world will depend a lot on whether the US government continues to view Cuba as a big threat, with a cold-war mentality, or adopts a more sensible policy of mutual advantages, distinguishing sharply between rhetorics and reality. Mr Nixon normalized relations with China, and Mr Obama could normalize relations with Cuba, why not.

It is probably in reality mainly the rigid US policy stance that restricts civil freedoms in Cuba, not Marxist-Leninist monolithism, which is inoperable in practice anyway. If there was at least a real assurance of respect for national sovereignity, or even mutually beneficial trade, the whole situation would be likely to ease up more.


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Received on Sat Nov 29 20:15:02 2008

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