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Fidel Castro, Internet News Junkie 241

Posted by samzenpus
from the but-does-he-play-farmville dept.
pickens writes "The LA Times reports that 84-year-old Cuban ex-President Fidel Castro consumes 200 to 300 news items a day on the World Wide Web. In a recent interview he called Web communication 'the most powerful weapon that has existed' and extolled its power to break a stranglehold on the media by 'the empire' and 'ambitious private groups that have abused it' adding that the Internet 'has put an end to secrets.... We are seeing a high level of investigative journalism, as the New York Times calls it, that is within reach of the whole world.' Well, not the whole world. Cuba has the lowest level of Internet penetration in the Western Hemisphere (lower than Haiti), plus severe government restrictions and censorship affecting those who do have access. In addition Cuban law bans using the Internet to spread information that is against what the government considers to be the social interest, norms of good behavior, the integrity of the people or national security."
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Fidel Castro, Internet News Junkie

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  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:17PM (#33482592) Homepage
    There are few things more annoying than finding something impressive or good about someone I dislike and consider responsible for a lot of people suffering. I'd love to hear about how Castro hates the internet and considers it to be a series of tubes filled with lies. But using it to keep track of the news in detail across the globe? That's something that many people his age simply cannot or will not do. Stupid facts messing with my preconceptions again...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by j35ter (895427)
      Yeah, but this guy *reads*! Compare that to the last pres. the US had! Makes him kinda less evil :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Castro is not an idiot or an ideologue. He is the classic opportunist - and an intelligent one, at that. Seeing the opportunity for power in a top-town socialist regime, he seized it.

      Now, he sees the power that 'new media' presents - and refuses it to the residents of his country. Seeing the open horizon of new media and denying it from others are not incompatible for a mega-maniacal dictator.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CodeBuster (516420)

        Castro is not an idiot or an ideologue. He is the classic opportunist - and an intelligent one, at that.

        Perhaps, but that does not excuse the immorality and injustice of his regime. Indeed, it is the height of hubris to hear one such as Castro, who knew exactly what he was really doing during all of those years of communist dictatorship, lecture the United States, as he likes to do from time to time, on morality and issues of social justice. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Cuban people maintain their facade of reverence for his person and policies in subsequent generations. Perhaps some will,

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 05, 2010 @04:24PM (#33483054)

      Can we be honest about something here?

      Here's something I'd like to see some statistics on.

      1. How many deaths is Fidel Castro responsible for?
      2. How many deaths is George Bush responsible for? Or even, your average US president?

      I have a feeling you're not going to like the answer. Why is it always that when some "other" guy (maybe someone who pissed off powerful American businessmen in the late 1950s) is a tyrant, a violent thug, and when we do it, we're heroes?

    • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @05:06PM (#33483380)

      I'd love to hear about how Castro hates the internet and considers it to be a series of tubes filled with lies. But using it to keep track of the news in detail across the globe? That's something that many people his age simply cannot or will not do. Stupid facts messing with my preconceptions again...

      If Castro was stupid or unable to adapt he'd never been able to take power, much less keep it against constant attempts of the US to oust him. Most people his age are not former victorious guerillas.

      Your problem is confusing ability and character.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      There are few things more annoying than finding something impressive or good about someone I dislike and consider responsible for a lot of people suffering.

      Really? I have no problem with it. Few people are one-dimensional. Look through the history of serial killers. You'll find a few in there that were very charismatic, engaging personalities who happened to be complete psychopaths. If these guys were one-dimensional representations of the horrors they enacted on others, they wouldn't be serial killers for long.

      It's like the idolization of sports celebrities. I have no problem with people being impressed with someone's ability to play a sport; even want

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sepultura (150245)

      Americans have been pumped full of negative propaganda about Castro (& Cuba) for as long as many of them have been alive. The fact is he's done some good, is loved in some parts of the world, and has done bad, and is hated in some places.

      In that way he was like many other "leaders" in the world today.

      However, he hasn't had to worry about getting votes, so when he made a decision he didn't have to give a shit what anyone thinks of it. That meant less manipulating the public to get their favor and impro

    • by gilgongo (57446)

      "There are few things more annoying than finding something impressive or good about someone I dislike and consider responsible for a lot of people suffering."

      On the other hand, there are also few things more annoying than somebody in power recognising that something is objectively good while denying that good to those whom they rule.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833)
      There is nothing impressive or good about a dictator enjoying something useful while denying it to the people he oppresses. Do you realize that in 2009 Cubans were allowed to own cell phones and personal computer (with a government permit) for the first time ever? Even so, the access to the Internet is practically non-existent except when it comes to senior party members. Having the power to keep 11 million people in darkness as a matter of policy is evil pure and simple, nothing good about it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pomslo (1865906)

      Hey! Hes just a dictator that throwed everyone eho disagreed with him into jail(or killed them).How nice!

      How good of him to be aging this well and to conserve such an agile mind for such an elderly brain.

      I just cant be happier for him. /sarcasm

      I mean, besides general oppression and murder what else did he do?

      Ah! Yes! Massive censorship.

      How can he praise the same freedom he constantly strangled when he was in charge? Does he find no hipocrisy on it?

    • There's a reason he was the ruler for so long.

      Anyway, take comfort in the fact that Bush still probably refuses to read the newspaper.

  • by damburger (981828) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:18PM (#33482600)

    Is it possible that Fidel is simply not aware of the state of the country he used to run? Is it possible this has been the case for a long time - possibly even longer than he has been publicly seen to be an invalid?

    • Considering that Fidel was the one who implemented many iron-fisted policies, I find that to be incredibly unlikely. He's mentally well enough to crawl news articles all day and understand them, so I think he's mentally well enough to understand that Cuba doesn't get the same privileges that he does.
    • by reeley (1894270) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:51PM (#33482848)
      just a slight question. Have you actually been to Cuba, if so, did you go out of the tourist areas and talk to the locals? From your comment, I suspect that you did not. Yes, the country is quite closed and controlled, but it is no where near as bad for the people as outsiders like to make out. There are a great many have nots in the UK where the divide between what you have and what they don't is a great deal greater than it is in cuba. Not saying that everything they do is right, I am just commenting that not everything they do is wrong. Just as a small matter of historical interest, perhaps you could read up on the history of their revolution and how 10 American Billionaires managed 99.8% of the total GDP of cuba, and how the locals starved pre the revolution to line the bank rolls of those 10 Americans. Do you still want to drink Bacardi now?
      • by damburger (981828)

        1. I don't drink Bacardi, not because of any Cuban politics, but because I'm not a 16-year-old chav girl in a miniskirt.

        2. I know Batistas Cuba wasn't wonderful

        3. No I have never been to Cuba.

        I am willing to entertain the possibility that Castro might be right about the embargo making Internet access hard to come by in Cuba, and also appreciate that its easy for a regime to start assuming every anti-government blogger is on the CIA payroll when they've had so many genuine covert attacsk from the US governme

      • by mangu (126918)

        Have you actually been to Cuba, if so, did you go out of the tourist areas and talk to the locals?

        I have never been to Cuba, but I know that getting out of the tourist areas and talking to the locals is not as easy as you think.

        A tourist agent once tried to sell me a trip to Cuba. Among several matters we discussed was transportation. He told me tourists are not allowed to drive cars in Cuba, the only way to rent a car is getting one with a Cuban driver.

        There are a great many have nots in the UK where the d

        • by aoeuid (250239) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @07:29PM (#33484340)

          I have never been to Cuba, but I know that getting out of the tourist areas and talking to the locals is not as easy as you think.

          A tourist agent once tried to sell me a trip to Cuba. Among several matters we discussed was transportation. He told me tourists are not allowed to drive cars in Cuba, the only way to rent a car is getting one with a Cuban driver.

          There is no problem with a foreign tourist renting a car in Cuba or driving around by themselves. The rental cars have a different coloured plate so the cops know you're tourists and will pretty much leave you alone. There are restrictions on the movement of Cubans throughout the country, I don't know what they are exactly, but white people in a rental car can pretty much pass freely through any checkpoint when crossing state lines or on the outskirts of the cities, usually without stopping. But if you're carrying any Cubans or other Latino people, they should probably duck.

          Also, if you are a decent person and willing to stop, it is pretty hard not to have any contact with the locals since hitch-hiking is extremely common on the island, and the locals will not think twice about jumping in the car with you if you let them. Whether they actually talk to you or not depends on the person. My own experience is that soldiers and young women might not say a word to you, not that that stops them from jumping in your car to catch a ride, but guys and older people will talk to you if you engage them and let them know you're just normal people on vacation cruising around their island for fun and to get to know their culture and country. If you're nice and willing to finance it, you can even organize a pig roast or something and party with the villagers. But it helps, of course, if you speak decent Spanish. This is my experience as a Canadian, anyway (we are freely allowed to travel to Cuba). But, in honesty, I found it very hard to communicate in Spanish in the resort areas, where it seems like they have certain people fluent in English who are authorized to mingle with the tourists, and the others are probably under direction to not acknowledge any Spanish coming out of the mouth of a white person beyond the extreme basics, like "una cerveza, por favor!". I had a hard time being understood in the resort areas, but off resort, cruising around, picking up hitch-hikers, miraculously most people seemed to understand me just fine.

  • Not surprising (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:19PM (#33482602)
    Considering that he maintained power for years by strangling information, that he is a student of this kind of open information is not at all surprising. Know your enemy! He wants others to have it so it might destabilize them, but in Cuba. not so much
  • 5...4...3... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DWMorse (1816016) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:19PM (#33482612) Homepage
    Countdown to another little nudge from Raul on the steps...
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:25PM (#33482688) Journal
    All people are equal, just some are more equal than others!
    • by sznupi (719324)

      Only "communism"?

      • Only "communism"?

        Capitalism makes no pretense about the equality of results, unlike Communism.

        • by sznupi (719324)

          Of course it does - "the results depend on abilities / capital (also human one)"; which is similar BS in the end.

    • by MrCoke (445461)

      That goes for every political system.

      • by funkatron (912521)
        No it doesn't. Some systems don't even bother to pretend.
      • by ArcherB (796902)

        That goes for every political system.

        Says the guy who is claiming his political system is the same as Cuba's while he freely criticizes it online without fear of retribution.

        Stop bitching. It really only make you look like some kind of emo kid who complains about the misery in his life while he lives in an air conditioned home, has his own room and goes to bed with a full stomach every night. Unless you truly live under a repressive regime, STFU. In reading you post, I'm guess you don't.

  • I'm surprised... (Score:2, Informative)

    by HBI (604924)

    I'm totally surprised that they brought up the oppression of the people of Cuba in this article. Pleasantly so. If they'd have brought up the deaths and forced emigration that have been going on for even longer than Castro has been in power, then they'd really have something.

    Regardless, Castro is a scumbag murderer. The sooner he and his family exit power, the better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:37PM (#33482766)

    Wait until he gets his hands on WoW....

  • by hitmark (640295)

    how exactly do one "consume" news?

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Through osmosis. I've had this power for years, all my professors said I was the best they'd ever seen at this system.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      how exactly do one "consume" news?

      Via Powersauce Bars.
      Get sauced with Powersauce!

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:42PM (#33482798)

    Fidel Castro consumes 200 to 300 news items a day on the World Wide Web.

    He was much cooler, when he was consuming 200 to 300 cigars a day.

    The next report will be that he is living in his mom's basement . . .

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @03:46PM (#33482822) Journal

    In addition Cuban law bans using the Internet to spread information that is against what the government considers to be the social interest,

    Swastikas.

    norms of good behavior,

    Porn.

    the integrity of the people

    Terrorism Act 2006.

    or national security."

    Assange.

    Being rich in America is like being rich in Cuba: life's cool. Meanwhile, being poor in America is like being poor in Cuba: life sucks. In the latter case, what differs is the handout you get and who you can get away criticising sufficiently loudly.

  • He's already [wikipedia.org] on [wikipedia.org] the [wikipedia.org] Internet [wikipedia.org].
  • I've always thought there should be more real news. So that's where it's going.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 05, 2010 @04:38PM (#33483162)

    I find it kind of strange that so many claim not to have Internet Access in Cuba.

    Last time I was there, I had my laptop with me. I sat outside the physics building at the University of Havanna, and used the free Wifi. No problems connecting to the internet. Tad annoying that everything had to go through proxy-servers, but with the extremely limited bandwidth, not very strange that they want caching.

    Didn't find a single censored website. https worked wonderfully well too.

  • by CreamyG31337 (1084693) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @04:41PM (#33483184)

    He's probably reading this?
    Hi from Canada!
    Send some cigars!

    • by tunapez (1161697)

      Hola amigo! Que tal?

      Espero usted surfe(?) todos articulos con RSS feeds, senor.

      /spanglish

  • Fidel. Is that you?
  • by ciguanabo (763734) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @05:03PM (#33483358) Homepage
    I was always critical of the cuban government because of their internet censorship and regulation. However, in a recent interview [jornada.unam.mx] Fidel Castro gives an explanation about why the restrictions are necessary. Basically, because of the US embargo, Cuba cannot buy the materials required for a broadband connection (any company that sells hardware to Cuba would be fined). The internet that is available at the moment has to go through a satellite instead of through a fibre optic backbone. This makes the connection much more expensive and slower. According to Castro, it is due to this technical restrictions that the government has to prioritise who can access the internet and who cannot.

    I am not entirely convinced by this explanation, although maybe someone who knows more about the costs and speed of these types of connections can say whether it makes sense. Ideally, any connection that is available should be accessible to anyone at, for example, libraries. I'm not sure whether this is possible in Cuba right now (anyone that can describe the current situation in Cuba?).

    The article also mentions that Cuba is building a submarine connection through Venezuela, which is aimed at solving the "internet shortage".

  • Internet distribution *does* help punch through the dominant media organizations' control (whether news media or recorded-music media)

    • by rcastro0 (241450)

      He does have a point... a trivial one.

      Big media used to be the 500 pound gorilla. These days it is more and more looking like Clint Eastwood in the movie "San Torino".

  • But what's his /. handle? And more importantly, ASL?
  • by gedw99 (1597337) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @07:36PM (#33484378)

    I met him when i was there in 2000.
    He flew down in his Helicopter into this village i was in; out of the blue and did a speech etc.
    i was there with a Brit and a Yank and we asked if we could meet him and we did.
    Mainly talk about Capitalism being evil etc etc.

    small world eh ...

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