From the Cuban perspective, then, blogger civil society can be both internally useful and also pose a threat to the security of the state and the stability of its government.
This view is not unique to Cuba. The Chinese tend to share this perspective, at least in part.
Unfettered cyber freedom is merely an impractical slogan, a Chinese expert on world politics told the Global Times Thursday.
"In the US, a country that boasts its Internet freedom, governmental supervision virtually infiltrates across the nation, and its influence further extends to worldwide servers," said Wang Yizhou, deputy chief of the Institute of World Politics and Economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The information-searching via Google and the online chatting through Windows Live Messenger are all under stringent surveillance, and the relevant agencies are tasked with compiling backups."
Wang was responding to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who made a speech Thursday on Internet freedom at the Newseum in Washington and called on China to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the alleged cyber attacks on Google and other US companies.
Indeed, the United States has not been shy about expressing its views and extending at least symbolic support to Cuban cyber civil society in ways that both embarass and threaten the state apparatus. Former President Jimmy Carter's Maery 2011 trip to Cuba provides a case in point.
Former President Jimmy Carter, met in Havana Wednesday, March 30, with independent bloggers and other Cuban dissidents during the third and final day of his visit to the island in an effort to help to improve decades of tense relations between the United States and Cuba, the BBC and Reuters report.
Participants in the meeting included the leader of the Cuban blogger movement Yoani Sánchez, and other well-known opponents, such as Elizardo Sánchez, leader of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, and Oswaldo Payá, winner of the European Parliament's 2002 Sakharov Prize and leader of the "Varela Project," which sought political reforms on the island in favor of greater individual liberties.
Monical Mendel, Ex-President Jimmy Carter meets in Havana with leader of Cuban bloggers and other dissidents, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas Blog, March 30, 2011.
Peering at the upheaval thousands of miles away in Egypt, the Cuban government is increasingly concerned about a burgeoning opposition movement growing through the Internet. . . .
In a 53-minute video leaked last week, a Cuban counter-intelligence staffer warned an audience of Castro government officials that pro-Democracy organizers in Cuba and the United States were using social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to foment a political uprising in the island nation.
"The technology in itself is not a threat, but the threat is what the people who use the technology can do with it," the lecturer said in the video, identified by the Miami Herald as 38-year-old Eduardo Fontes-Suarez. "The Internet is a battlefield." . . . .
But the Cuban government has taken steps that seemingly contradict the premise that they fear the Internet. On Tuesday, Cuban authorities recently unblocked Sanchez' blog, allowing it to be accessed and read within the island for the first time.
Serafin Gomez, Protests in Egypt Spark Fears in Cuba Over Growing Internet Opposition Movements, Fox News, Feb. 10, 2011.
These tensions have not left American academics untouched. I recent story reminds us both about the importance of the issue of cyber civil society in many states and the effect that this worry may have on public policy and the ability of academics, especially academics from abroad, to work in countries in which the issue of cyber civil society remains volatile.
CUNY Professor Ted Henken just spent 12 days in Cuba talking to bloggers. But the Cuba researcher says the trip may well be his last.
In a posting that should serve as a warning to journalists and academics alike, he reports on his El Yuma blog that upon his exit at the airport, state security agents had a daunting question for him: Who did you get permission from? Well, Henken said, I asked the bloggers’ permission.. . .
Henken acknowledges that he traveled on a tourist visa, as he has since his first trip in 1997. The agents had lots of questions for him, questions they already had the answers to. . . . .
The agents told Henken, the chair of the Black and Hispanic Studies Department at Baruch College, that this 15th trip would be his last.Frances Robles, CUNY Prof Banned From Cuba, The Miami Herald, May 4, 2011.
"Lo que si sabemos es que no eres ningún turista sino que viniste a escribir un libro sobre los blogueros." Y con mucho sarcasmo añadieron, "a nosotros nos gustaría leer este libro y ver qué tan justo y abierto al diálogo realmente eres."
"Bueno," dije, "a ver cuando lo termino si puedo tenerlo traducido al español y les mando una copia."
"Así es. Sabemos que escribes mucho sobre Cuba y que has venido aquí más de 13 veces."
"Sí. He venido a Cuba mas de 15 veces. Es cierto."
"Bueno," dijo el encargado con gran satisfacción dando por terminada la conversación, "estamos aquí para informarte que esta será tu última vez. Entendiste?"
Salieron del pequeño cuarto rápidamente, dejándome un poco frustrado porque me quedaban un par de cosas por decir. Primero, hubiera querido avisarles que realmente no me gusta la playa (pero los mojitos, sí). Además, debería de haberles preguntado por qué el presidente Jimmy Carter, con quien estoy muy de acuerdo, tiene derecho de reunirse con lo que llaman "la contrarrevolución" sin ser tildado enemigo de la patria y yo no.