Machetera found something odd in her inbox this morning. A comment – and not just the unintelligible garbage that Machetera receives with depressing regularity, but something that appears to have been somewhat carefully drafted despite the whopper of an error in the first sentence. Rosa Miriam Elizalde’s article on cyber-dissidents apparently struck a nerve.
Instead of approving this in the comments section, Machetera will make it into a post of its own – lucky you, Ernesto Hernández Busto – not everybody gets this treatment. Of course she reserves the right to answer the craziness as we go along.
Ernesto writes from Spain and has his own blog which you can google yourself if you’re really interested. It’s nothing so fancy as Yoani’s of course, but maybe if he actually moves to Cuba and starts publishing from there, he too can get in on the Pentagon gravy train and scam an upgrade.
Here it is:
EHB: You should how the “other side”:
Machetera: Please don’t text while driving.
EHB: The new media “mission” in which Rosa Miriam Elizalde has reappeared in the Cuban electronic media has to do with blogs and the internet. The point is to prove, through any means possible (although preferably without citing the newspaper Granma), that the increasingly numerous blogs and websites where many Cubans have dared to freely post their opinions are a part of a cyber-campaign designed by shadowy American institutions.
To do this, Rosa Miriam offers as “overwhelming” evidence the fact that the domain of the group Porno Para Ricardo was purchased through GoDaddy, one of the web sites supposedly sponsored by the Pentagon. (As have millions of other domains because, as everyone except Rosa Miriam knows, the registration fees from GoDaddy have no competition: it’s the cheapest, most anonymous and most secure way to buy a domain.)
Machetera: Let’s be clear…the quotes around “overwhelming” are EHB’s. This point was one among many in Rosa Miriam Elizalde’s article. GoDaddy has plenty of competition and describing it as the cheapest, most anonymous and most secure way to buy a domain does nothing but make EHB sound like he has shares in the company. I can think of quite a few more secure ways to buy a domain, and you don’t have to pay GoDaddy’s “Private Domain Registration” fee (what a ripoff) to hide your info either. But this is beside the point and EHB knows it.
The larger point is that both the USG and Porno para Ricardo chose the same registrar, and the owner of the company processing the registration is someone who is likely not to yank the domain as long as the content is in line with USG foreign policy goals. Unlike what happened with Steve Marshall and his Cuba tourism sites. GoDaddy wasn’t his registrar but it surely would have yanked his domains just as quickly, despite having the resources to defend them on principle.
EHB: The latest exercise of Rosa Miriam, however, is too blatant for anyone familiar with the Internet and her alleged “revelations” are laughable to anyone who is somewhat aware of what’s happening in the Cuban blogosphere. The whole world knows that Charlie Bravo is the webmaster of the PPR site (unofficial);
Machetera: Okay, wait a second, the whole world doesn’t know that Charlie Bravo is the webmaster of the PPR site, sweetheart. Because I imagine you would have to actually care about the PPR site or their shitty music to have that particular piece of data on hand. But thanks for enlightening us anyway.
EHB: …that it would be absurd (and impossible) that these independent blogs and websites on Cuban themes be housed on servers on the island;
Machetera: Yes, it would be absurd, wouldn’t it, considering that I have more internet bandwidth coming into my house than most Cuban connections put together. Go on…
EHB: …that the registration of .cu domains is only authorized for official Cuban government sites (I myself have not been able to register one, nor have the managers of Bloggers Cuba);
Machetera: This is nutty. What if I were to tell you that I can’t register machetera.es? Or machetera.dk? Waaahhhhh. Those damn Spaniards! Damn Danes! Of course I can’t, neither can anyone else. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) governs how suffixes (technically known as top level domains) will be sold and, get this – each country gets to decide how they want to use the TLD’s assigned to them. What a novel concept. It’s kind of like countries have sovereignty over their little tiny piece of the Internet pie. Imagine. Sovereignty in this day and age.
I know it’s hard for EHB to swallow the idea that Cuba is not going to sell TLDs to people who want to use them to spread anti-Cuban propaganda (as if we don’t already have more than enough of that) but he’s just going to have to live with it, and he’s also going to have to live with Rosa Miriam Elizalde’s perfectly accurate point, which is that as long as these anti-Cuban sites are registered and maintained outside the island, their Cuban-ness is completely questionable.
EHB: …that in regards to the internet it’s absurd to resort to the nationalistic “territorialization”;
Machetera: Not really…see above.
EHB: …and that what Elizalde pompously calls “the sophisticated management tools and services on this website with a payment gateway or electronic gateway for sending money by credit card,” is something anyone can do anywhere via PayPal in 15 minutes – if it doesn’t contravene the embargo regulations.
Machetera: Hey, thanks for adding that qualifier “if it doesn’t contravene the embargo regulations.” You can kind of drive a truck through that, can’t you? By the way, it’s a blockade, not an embargo, eejit.
EHB: In the case of Yoani they don’t know what to make up.
Machetera: You don’t have to make anything up in Yoani’s case because the truth is so delicious all on its own.
EHB: Now they catch her with poor Josef, an old friend of Yoani’s who has selflessly taken on the server for DesdeCuba for years.
Machetera: Man, I’ll say that’s selfless. And not a word of public thanks all this time from Yoani either. Is the girl self-centered or what?
EHB: Of course the server’s not in Cuba because if it had been Generation Y wouldn’t have lasted two seconds.
Machetera: Why? Because it’s like totally 100% negative and anti-Cuban without any positive view whatsoever, and is being used as a tool to spread lies and manufacture dissent? Or because any server housed in Cuba would have a hard time functioning on bandwidth doled out by the kilobyte?
EHB: (By the way, if you take the time to check out the site used by this journalist, you’ll discover that the server for Granma and other official Cuban press sites isn’t located in Cuba either; Cubadebate, for example, appears to be housed in Japan, which is more or less the same distance as they are from Cuban reality.)
Machetera: And thank god for that, because otherwise we couldn’t see their content at all, due to the bandwidth problem explained above.
EHB: When Rosa Miriam says that “the technical support for this site, which serves her blog almost exclusively, is the kind of custom-designed tool which in today’s market costs several hundreds of thousands of dollars,” one has to laugh. A blog available from WordPress for free and a server that’s not even “dedicated” are elevated by this “specialist” to something only a millionaire could afford, as she takes advantage of the widespread ignorance among Cubans about these things.
Machetera: Hold on. You know very well that Yoani’s blog is not a free WordPress blog. It’s something beyond that, with its own domain name, its custom design, not to mention a server capable of handling the few thousand echo chamber comments (do ex-Cubans have an extraordinary amount of free time to waste?) that pop up every time Yoani publishes a scrap of anything.
EHB: To them, the success of Generation Y must be the result of “a Major League…advertising strategy.” With limited references to the way they themselves carry out “ideological work” and massive propaganda, the blog phenomenon is an alien world to them, a godson of sordid conspiracies and suspect financing.
Machetera: Wait…here’s a question. Speaking of ideological work and massive propaganda which of the following countries has a multi-billion dollar funded program overseen by a spy agency to hack into computers and servers for the purpose of disabling them, and also is known to have hired people in foreign countries to create Internet propaganda?
a. the United States of America
EHB: Yoani’s other sin is to use Twitter “and other variants of Web 2.0 that are barely used in Cuba.” The fact that anyone can freely send a message of up to 140 characters is a possibility that terrifies them.
Machetera: What’s Yoani been up to lately? Oh yeah, she tried to get a cacerolazo going on May 1st, didn’t she? (The Argentineans must have loved that.) Now it’s not her fault it sounded like a 2 person conga – you gotta admit that Cubans, even anorexic pasty white ones like Yoani have some sense of rhythm. But Yoani’s not using Twitter to invite her friends to come have a beer with her after work (oh wait, Yoani doesn’t actually work). She’s got an ax to grind, and she’s getting tired of grinding it all by herself. I wouldn’t say that Cuba is terrified of the possibility, judging by recent results, but they’re probably getting tired of the annoyance.
EHB: Maybe the person at Copextel who had to prepare the report about the liberalization of cellular telephones didn’t tell them about that. Their excuse for banning Web 2.0 and any other form of direct participation worked until a few days ago: now the ever present “blockade” doesn’t affect telecommunications.
Machetera: Yeah, I’m sure Etecsa never heard of texting. That would explain why it costs so much less to text than talk and most Cubans with cellphones use them that way. How long did you say it had been since you were in Cuba? And glad you finally recognized it’s a blockade, even if you couldn’t do it without throwing quotes around it. By the way, the undersea cable isn’t actually switched on yet.
EHB: Then they throw the blame on the CIA, distorting the majority demand to open up the Internet on the island.
Machetera: I don’t even know where to go with this. It’s too stupid.
EHB: Along the way, Rosa Miriam gets sidetracked and becomes increasingly predictable: she copies M. H. Lagarde Jr. in the extreme distortion of the apparent content of a post where Yoani referred to the rancor and thirst for revenge that “Castro-ism” has incubated in Cubans for decades.
Machetera: I have no idea who the hell M.H. Lagarde Jr. is – like I said, you ex-Cubans have a lot more time to screw around on the Internet than the rest of us, but I don’t know how you read Yoani’s post about Cubans just waiting for the opportunity to pull out their long knives and kill each other in order to make up for past slights as anything other than bloodthirstiness. For the historically inclined, “The Night of the Long Knives” is generally a reference to the Nazi score-settling which killed hundreds of people in the mid-summer of 1934. But Yoani couldn’t have been thinking of that. Or could she?
Rosa Miriam Elizalde is quite right to point out that this is probably not the stuff Yoani’s handlers had in mind, and she ought to be careful about destroying her carefully prepared image. She might actually end up having to work for a living.
EHB: As a culmination of her extensive diatribe, Rosa Miriam takes care to point out that the work of the blogger is a little less than useless, “since obviously she has no readers in Cuba,” a refrain that is repeated in several sites and which can be easily disproved. Yoani and her blog (even with access blocked to Cuban cybernauts) has—and every day will have more—readers in Cuba.
Machetera: I think we’ve been down this road before. Yoani whines that her blog is blocked in Cuba. Some people in Cuba with internet access say that it is, other people in Cuba with internet access say that it isn’t. I really couldn’t be less interested either way. When I’m in Cuba, I’m fighting just to read my email, just like the average Cubans I live with. It really wouldn’t occur to me to waste my time or money looking up a crappy anti-Cuban blog put together with foreign aid. Maybe more Cubans will start reading Yoani’s blog if they have full Internet access after Venezuela switches on the undersea cable next year. But if full Internet access were free and ubiquitous in Cuba, I’m betting that a tiny fraction would be interested in reading Yoani’s constant bitching. The rest of the malcontents will go for the porn.
EHB: Many more [readers] than Rosa Miriam has, notwithstanding that she uses every official means to discredit Yoani and present her as an “instrument of the American government” or of Spain’s PRISA group, or any of these tired fables.
Machetera: Oh man, you’re not going to turn this into a catfight now, are you? Comparing Rosa Miriam Elizalde and Yoani Sánchez? Please. The former works – hard, the latter snipes, while freeloading on the Cuban government she so despises, to raise her no doubt bothersome children. If readership numbers are that meaningful to you, Paris Hilton probably has more readers than either Yoani or Rosa Miriam Elizalde combined. That doesn’t really mean much unless you see people’s readership choices as an indicator of the decline of Western civilization.