Jimmy Carter and cyberwar against Cuba

Olga Lopez
March 31, 2011
Jimmy Carter and cyberwar against Cuba
The former U.S. President Jimmy Carter came to Cuba with a three-day private visit. The reason for the visit to Cuba of the elderly politician (he is 86 years old) was his concern for the fate of a U.S. citizen Alan Gross, convicted by the Cuban court to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the independence and territorial integrity of Cuba”. Gross, who is 61, was arrested in December 2009 and accused of organizing the illegal access to the Internet to the Jewish community of Cuba under a program sponsored by the U.S. government. Being a “contract soldier” of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Gross brought satellite mobile communications devices, which is not permitted by local laws to the country.

In Havana Carter had a meeting with the Cuban President Raul Castro and other members of the government. He assured that he came to warm up the relations between the two countries, to witness the situation in the country on the eve of a crucial congress of the ruling party: in mid-April the congress will discuss the future development of Cuba and will announce the economic and political reforms.

During his first visit to Cuba in 2002, Carter, on the one hand, condemned the economic blockade of Cuba, but on the other – supported local opposition, met with dissidents.

The new visit was not an exception. Although Carter assured the journalists that he came to Cuba not to “take Gross from the island”, still, he had a meeting with Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who helped to release 52 dissidents and activists of the Jewish Community of Cuba not long ago. The meetings have been mostly held “behind closed doors”. It is believed that they discussed the issue of Alan Gross as well. Earlier there were reports that the Jewish community was not aware of the visit of Gross to the country and no equipment had been ordered either to him or his organization.

Early in the morning of the last day of the visit, Jimmy Carter had a meeting with “ordinary citizens of Cuba”, who were invited to the meeting by his aides. These were female volunteers of the society "Women in White" (Las Damas de Blanco) and several bloggers, dissidents of a new generation, the generation of Internet users, among whom was Yoani Sanchez.

The documentary film “Cyberwar” (“Ciberguerra”) from the series “Arguments of Cuba” (“Las Razones de Cuba”) has recently spoke about her. Yoani Sanchez was born in 1975, was a Cuban pioneer, then got a degree in philology, worked in a publishing firm. In the zero years, when Cuba, after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, has fallen on hard times, she had side jobs wherever she could, most often by a guide. At that time a lot of other people did not work in their profession: engineers were taxi drivers, teacher used to stand behind the counters ... That was the time, when discontent began to grow in her. In 2002, she left Cuba and went to Switzerland, but in 2004 returned to the island – “for family reasons” “against the advice of friends and acquaintances”. Soon she combined “philology with computer science” and together with her friends has founded the webzine “Consent” (”Consenso”). Presently Sanchez, as she currently writes about herself, is a webmaster, writer and publisher of the “Portal news from Cuba” ("Portal desde Cuba"). In 2007, she started a blog, which was called “Generation Y” (“Generacion Y”), after the first letter of her name. And got famous as the author of this blog.

In the documentary film “Cyberwar” the experts have analyzed the trajectory of Sanchez and concluded that she had become a kind of a “cyber-mercenary” working for the United States. According to the authors of the film, today, on the island there operates “a new type of counter-revolution” – bloggers, who, like Sanchez, are earning “a good life”, criticizing the established order. The film makers believe that the evidence of Sanchez links with U.S. “advisers” are her regular meetings with representatives of the United States Interest Section. It is known that in Cuba there is no diplomatic representation of the U.S., the interests of which are represented by that Section. As “an outstanding blogger” Sanchez received numerous honors and awards, which have, in particular, the monetary value as well: a year after she created the blog, she got an Ortega and Gasset prize for journalism. Soon after, “The Times” magazine included Sanchez in the list of 100 influential people in the world, and her blog was among the 25 top best. There is no need to continue: anyone who promoted sites and blogs knows, that a heavy financial support is indispensable, and no friends will translate you “for free” into 15 languages of the world. Besides, the film reminds that the U.S. president Barack Obama “himself” gave an interview to Sanchez, which also indirectly demonstrates that she enjoys support of the U.S. authorities.

The most recent blog entry of Sanchez – her report on the meeting with the former President Carter. She writes that the representative of Carter called her to the meeting but asked not to mention the place where it would take place. That is why, in her report she “conspiratorially” writes that the meeting took place “in one of the schools” not far from the hotel “Santa Isabel”. Sanchez is full of admiration for Carter (who, it turns out, does not seek to erase Cuba off the map of the world, as it had been instilled in her during the years of pioneerdom!). She, naturally, complained to the guest for the scanty life in Cuba, and brought him the “most valuable” gift – a set of handiwork made of peanuts, which had not been touched by the “restrictions of the planned economy”.

Jimmy Carter was the U.S. president in 1977-1981. He is the politician of the highest rank, who has visited Cuba since 1959. In 2009, President Barack Obama “generously” softened restrictions on travel to Cuba and sending funds there, but refused to lift the embargo. Now he is waiting for “counter-moves” of Cuba. Which moves? As for the “volunteer Gross”, the United States assure that he acted with the most decent intentions: to help the Cuban people to become familiar with Internet, but now, while Gross is in prison, the good relations between countries are out of the question!

The meetings themselves of the “mediator-peacemaker” Carter with the paid-off by the U.S. opposition (which has clearly been shown in the film series “Arguments of Cuba”) show: the U.S. not in one jot have changed their attitude to Cuba! The subversive activities against it is not weakening!

Internet conquers Cuba, the number of Cuban users keep on growing, who tell the world about the life of their country, its achievements and, according to the authors of the film, “are not trying to capitalize on this”.