Home Leaked: Cuban Government Fears Bloggers More Than Activists

Leaked: Cuban Government Fears Bloggers More Than Activists

Reporters Without Bordersreports that several diplomatic cables that have come out via Wikileaks indicate Cuba is more worried about bloggers than traditional activists.

In a cable from April of last year, Jonathan Farrar, chief of mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana agrees with a news op-ed that calls the traditional dissidents “old and out of touch.”

“(The articles) might have generated a reform debate among the dissident leaders, but instead they simply focused dissident frustration with the Cuban exile community.”

“Younger individuals, like bloggers” and musicians, are much more appealing to the public and are targets of jealousy by the activists.

In a second cable from later that year, Farrar underscores what a terror bloggers have become to the “GOC” (government of Cuba).

“Much more threatening to the regime are our overtures to and complaints of mistreatment of bloggers, a group that frustrates and scares the GOC like no other…The conventional wisdom in Havana is that GOC sees the bloggers as its most serious challenge, and one that it has trouble containing in the way that it has dealt with traditional opposition groups. The ‘old guard’ dissidents mostly have been isolated from the rest of the island. The GOC doesn’t pay much attention to their articles or manifestos because they have no island-wide resonance and limited international heft. For a while, ignoring the bloggers too seemed to work. But the bloggers’ mushrooming international popularity and their ability to stay one tech-step ahead of the authorities are causing serious headaches in the regime.”

A third cable described the meetings between Cuban bloggers and Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Bisa Williams in September.

“The bloggers, who partly out of self-preservation do not want to be lumped in with the dissident community, were equally optimistic about the course of events. ‘An improvement in relations with the United States is absolutely necessary for democracy to emerge here.'”

The distributed nature of the appeal and actions of bloggers and other cultural rebels are harder for the Cuban government to high-jack. How can the government infiltrate a group of bloggers who rarely meet, and none of whom know all the others, and whose statements are accessible, albeit with difficulty, all over the island and the world? What form the changes bloggers make in the future of Cuba will take is as unknowable as it is thrilling to consider.

Read more ReadWriteWeb coverage of Cuba. Read all the cables from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

Cuba car by Mikel Ortega | Calle Obispo photo by Paul Mannix | malecon photo by Kiwi Vic

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