Freedom of speech not so hot in Havana
Since the revolution of the 1950s, Cuba has remained somewhat of a mystery to the outside world because many voices from the island nation continue to be silenced.
There are few countries in the world that so many know so little about. Some simply do not make much news, while others are subject to an autocratic control over news in the country that has led to unclear reporting about its current events. The latter is the case when it comes to the island of Cuba. But to understand the state of the country now, one must look into history of the nation.
In the 1950s, the country underwent a socialist revolution, led most notably by Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara. When the revolutionaries took power, many programs became nationalized including healthcare, education and unfortunately, the media. Like in most revolutions, the politics that surrounded the Cuban one were quite complex. While some romanticized the revolution (hence the popularity of the ironic Che Guevara merchandise), others at the time were concerned about the growing popularity of communism throughout the world.
The media today
The effects of the revolution over half a century ago still reverberates throughout the nation and the rest of the world. The government plays a huge role in censorship and control over the media and as a result, political discord within the country is quite high.
In countries where press freedom is more open, the media can serve as a place in which to engage in political discussion. While one can argue that the press in say, the United States, has its own problems, they are certainly not as direct as they are in Cuba. Because the main news outlets are government run, it presents events in a way that is likely to paint the country and ruling government in an appealing light. This has subsequently created a network of bloggers who are critical of the government and its censorship policy.
Finding a voice on the internet?
An ABC news report explains the state of the internet in Cuba, and unfortunately, it is not very strong. One of the main problems is that access for many is out of the question. According to the news source, the country currently has 0.04 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people in the country. Many go online through various legal and illegal access points, but in both cases the rates are absurdly expensive (between $6 to $10 a month) and the rate at which it operates is quite slow.
This makes it quite difficult for many to gain access to alternative news outlets to the state run media. Because of the high price and relative rarity of access points, one who wishes to gain access has very limited options.
Even when someone does find access, however, the difficulties continue. To provide an alternative view point to the state-run media, a network of bloggers has risen in the country, despite the difficulty to find internet access, according to the ABC report. But simply because they provide an alternative opinion does not mean that others are able to access it.
Internet censorship in the country is rampant. According to the Institute for War and Peace reporting, many websites that are critical of the government have been blocked. This censorship, according to the news source, has even been deemed necessary by politicians in the country so as to protect people from the "dangers" of the internet.
Cubans are subject to a number of limitations when it comes to their internet access. It can be surprisingly easy for governments to forget where they came from, as political dissent is what ignited the Cuban Revolution over 50 years ago. Or, perhaps more cynically, the ruling government knows exactly how powerful freedom of speech can be.