Thursday, August 10, 2006

Keeping an eye on you

Back in the days of Nicolae Ceausescu, it was a crime to own an “unauthorised” typewriter in communist Romania. They were subversive instruments.

In Cuba today, the regime has just announced a crackdown on the modern day equivalent of Ceausescu’s evil, imperialist typewriters: "unauthorised" satellite dishes that pick up news broadcasts from the capitalist North.

The crackdown comes just a week or so after it was announced that Fidel Castro was stepping down “temporarily” because of a serious but still undisclosed health crisis - and handing over power to his slightly younger brother, Raul.

Since then, the island has gone into information lock-down mode: no official health reports (they are "State secrets"); no appearances by either Castro; military reservists called up; hundreds of foreign journalists blocked from entering.

And now, satellite dishes.

According to Granma, the official propaganda sheet of the regime, Cubans with “unathorised” satellite dishes will face lengthy prison sentences, and fines of up to 30,000 Cuban pesos - a fortune in a country where doctors earn an average of 300 pesos a month. You can read the article here (in Spanish).

The paper says the spread of such “illegal” dishes in recent years is of great concern. Of course. It says the broadcasts – mainly from the United States – are subversive. "They are fertile ground for those who want to carry out the Bush administration's plan to destroy the Cuban revolution," said the newspaper.

Further proof that the more things change ...

As I recount in Child of the Revolution: Growing up in Castro’s Cuba, this is the same regime that banned The Beatles back in the 1960s because their music was deemed to be subversive, too. The same regime that banned George Orwell. And miniskirts. And long hair.


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