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The Internet Network Technology

Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet 141

An anonymous reader writes: Internet connections remain illegal for Cuban households, but many of the country's citizens still want to tap into the power of networked information exchange. A group of tech-savvy young Cubans has set up a network comprising thousands of computers to serve as their own miniature version of the internet. They use chat rooms, play games, and connect to organize real-life activities. Cuban law enforcement seems willing to tolerate it (so far), but the network polices itself so as not to draw undue attention.

One of the engineers who helped build the network said, "We aren't anonymous because the country has to know that this type of network exists. They have to protect the country and they know that 9,000 users can be put to any purpose. We don't mess with anybody. All we want to do is play games, share healthy ideas. We don't try to influence the government or what's happening in Cuba ... We do the right thing and they let us keep at it."
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Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

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  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @06:24AM (#48912481)

    We don't mess with anybody. All we want to do is play games, share healthy ideas. We don't try to influence the government or what's happening in Cuba We do the right thing and they let us keep at it.

    If you ever want to see how soul destroying communism is there it is. Might as well still have the country controlled by the Mafia, at least it would be more fun.

    • by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @06:29AM (#48912501)

      Let's see you try to overthrow your government and post about it on the internet. Let's see how long you keep your free internet access (and your freedom in general).

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @09:16AM (#48913185)

        The only two options are not "complete and total freedom to do anything you want" and "complete control by a dictatorship". no country is going to allow folks to plot a violent overthrow of the government. But being able to criticize the government is a basic human right that does not exist in Cuba. Granted the US is not perfect, or close to it, but we are a lot more free than our Cuban counterparts.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Even if they were working for free cuba they would be really goddamn stupid to openly admit it in interview. What do you think he should have said? "we are using our network to coordinate revolutionary events" ? Offcourse they are "doing the right thing".

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Granted the US is not perfect, or close to it, but we are a lot more free than our Cuban counterparts.

          Depends on your definition of free. We are a lot more free to bad mouth the government, or lie about our products in advertisements, but they're more free to have the medical procedures they need regardless of their ability to pay for them and to have some place to live and food to eat regardless of ability to pay.

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @09:34AM (#48913287) Homepage Journal

        Let's see you try to overthrow your government and post about it on the internet. Let's see how long you keep your free internet access (and your freedom in general).

        Right now, any dickwad in America is free to put up a website advocating abolishment of the American government. And indeed, many of them have. Further, there is in fact a completely legal process for elimination of the constitution; you could pass an Amendment replacing it with another document. Nothing prevents anyone from starting a political party on this basis. I bet if I were less lazy I could find some really batshit crazy examples right now, but I equally bet that some people out there in Slashdot-land already know of some. I hope they will help out and link them here.

        • Right now, any dickwad in America is free to put up a website advocating abolishment of the American government.

          Sure, as long as you never act on it.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            He didn't say violent overthrow. He said abolishment. That indicates a process involving a Constitutional Congress ratifying an amendment to the existing Constitution that invalidates it and establishes its replacement document.

            Even if you act on this, nobody is going to arrest you for doing anything illegal. It's not illegal. It's not treasonous. It's just simply "governance". Laws change all of the time. There's nothing preventing the constitution from being changed either, except a somewhat cumbersome pr

            • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:45AM (#48914319)

              Well, I'm sure Raoul Castro would be okay with you coming up with a plan to abolish or restructure the Cuban government, provided any such abolishment or restructuring went through the proper channel of getting Raoul Castro's approval first.

              Ditto with China. I doubt they would even blink an eye at your website entitled "My plan to abolish the Chinese government, with the prior approval and properly-obtained consent of the Chinese government."

      • Let's see you try to overthrow your government and post about it on the internet. Let's see how long you keep your free internet access (and your freedom in general).

        Wait, are we talking about Cuba or the U.S.?

      • Let's see you try to overthrow your government and post about it on the internet. Let's see how long you keep your free internet access (and your freedom in general).

        You missed his point entirely. What you're pointing out makes the kid's comment even sadder.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @11:47AM (#48914349) Homepage Journal

        The difference is every few years in democratic nations you have the chance to over through the government legally.
        It is called a free election.

    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @06:34AM (#48912509)

      This has nothing to do with Communism. It has everything to do with oversight and more about agencies abusing that oversight.
      Mind you, many western countries are running towards the same model where everybody is being watched and the slightest will make your life miserable. People will soon start to whisper. I already notice how I am wording things, because I know that in a few years what I said now WILL be used against me.

      • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @08:02AM (#48912813)

        When every article about a communist, pseudo-communist, or crypto-communist country has to have a post like this (and it's in every thread), it's time to start thinking about why and how all communist countries (save, perhaps, India) become totalitarian hell-holes, and whether communism as a pure ideology is too hopelessly broken to implement in reality. Not to mention that it seems to me that no Scottish communism on earth is True Scottish communism.

        Western democracies are heading in that direction, but so far every country with a communist economic model has to start there.

        • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @09:06AM (#48913137) Journal
          It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. {Winston Churchill}

          As you sit comfortably in your home and life sheltered by a Western democracy, it is all too easy to take for granted the freedoms you enjoy. Stories like this are about the rest of the World's citizens, and what happens when individual rights go away.

          Relish this when you have a moment, but never, ever, stop struggling to protect the erosion of these inalienable rights. Totalitarian regimes aren't all born beneath a single governing style or philosophy.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          First, India isn't Communist, nor has it ever been Communist.

          Second, All of these communist countries have been relatively poor countries to start, with little to no industrial base, unlike the West. Therefore these Communist countries tried to experiment with the economy, using state led growth to boost their industry and compete with the US in a game of catchup. This led to an authoritarian state.

          Other countries that were further along in economic development were able to implement socialist states that

          • by Anonymous Coward
            No, but India's constitution does declare it a 'sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.' Granted, the democratic part assures that it isn't communist, but until the 90s, India's leading parties all swore by socialism. The only exception was the current ruling party the BJP. Indians do in practice have a right to property, but that's something the government can trump anytime. Although in that aspect, they're probably not much different from the US ever since the Kelo v. City of New London ca
        • by dj245 ( 732906 )

          When every article about a communist, pseudo-communist, or crypto-communist country has to have a post like this (and it's in every thread), it's time to start thinking about why and how all communist countries (save, perhaps, India) become totalitarian hell-holes, and whether communism as a pure ideology is too hopelessly broken to implement in reality. Not to mention that it seems to me that no Scottish communism on earth is True Scottish communism.

          Western democracies are heading in that direction, but so far every country with a communist economic model has to start there.

          Democracy (at least how the US practices it) have problems too. Just as 1 example, we have no mechanism for long-term planning with any teeth to "stick to the plan". When we pass budgets other laws/plans for the 5-10 year future, we have to put in "poison pills" or use other tricks to make them harder to reneg on. But that doesn't matter either because the politicians just repeal the poison pill part of the law the second it benefits their career.

        • by cusco ( 717999 )

          Well, not really. Cuba was a totalitarian hell-hole **before** Castro, and the communist government has been considerably less repressive and violent than any of the pseudo-democratic or crypto-democratic countries that the US set up in Central America. The El Salvadoran government just in the 1980s killed more people out of its smaller population in the 1980s than the Cuban government has killed in all the decades since the overthrow of Batista combined. The Cuban government has improved the lives of th

      • Absolutely. I can't find work today because people remember some weird joke or comment I made 15 years ago, but not the over-nighters I pulled.

        What a wonderful world we live in.

        • Something I learned a very long time ago: 10,000 Attaboys << 1 Oh Shit.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The problem with Communism is it puts too much power in the hands of the government, and in every country were communism has been implemented this power has been abused (Cuba, N Korea, Soviet Russia, China). It always leads to a rich and powerful ruling class and an oppressed population.

        This is exactly why I am opposes to large, power governments. The more power the government has, the more it will abuse it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or you could just let the NSA track everything you do instead; how much self-censorship has the NSA produced?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The fact that you just made that statement without fear of being killed is indicative of the difference.

    • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @06:45AM (#48912555)

      Not a flamebait question/troll even though it might seem so!

      This article does indeed show how folk can be creative under a restrictive government: the Cuban authorities don't look like the victim when they are not allowing their own citizens access to the internet (anybody know what their justification is - I'd be interested to know the official reasoning).

      But on the other side and in a more general sense, can somebody tell me why the USA still has an embargo against Cuba? (sensible answers only please). It's really perplexing for an outsider so reasonable answers would be welcomed. The USA doesn't have a problem with quite open trade and relations with other nominally communist states (e.g. China, Vietnam). It doesn't mind trading with other countries it was at war with 50 years ago. It doesn't mind trading with countries who had /still have nuclear missiles pointing at it. It doesn't mind embracing countries with poor human rights records.

      Is it because of the proximity of Cuba, or some other reason? Really curious, feels like an odd hang over from a cold war that finished before many slashdotters were born...

      cheers!

      • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @07:06AM (#48912631) Homepage
        It stays because there is a large group of voters in Florida who still want it and the rest of the country that could care less if it is there or not. Then on the Cuba side they have always done what they can to keep it because it gave Fidel a ralleying cry on why Cuba is in so bad of shape.
        With current talks will have to see what happens.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I've thought this on a couple of occasions - the US political movement seems to have a not inconsiderable number of people who are more interested in using their political stature to support other countries rather than their own. So you have a large number of voters and politicians who consider Cuba to be their primary voting area, and another larger number of voters and politicians who consider Israel to be their primary voting area.

          Stop leaning hard on Cuba, suddenly theres huge outcry from pressure grou

          • There is a saying in the US "All politics is local" it is not really that those people value the outside country more it is that they know the money will be spent and the local voters have an personal interest in some policy dealing with that country. Since the money will be spend no matter what why not fight for what you think the money should be spend on.
            If a large body of voters have a problem with it the Congressman and Senators will most likely vote for/against unless it is major contradiction to the
        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          It stays because there is a large group of voters in Florida who still want it.

          And they're hypocrites. They've exempted themselves from a lot of the restrictions that the rest of us have.

          They've also done their compatriots a huge dis-service. One of the things that corrodes Communism faster than anything else is seeing the people next door bringing home big-screen TVs and buying cars made after 1957 Materialism trumps ideology anyday when you're talking the masses.

          I'd be quite willing to give odds on the implosion of Cuban Communism the minute the USA truly opens the borders. Even the

        • I'll add that the large group of voters in Florida (Cuban exiles) has undue influence because it's Florida - typically a swing state in Presidential elections with 29 electoral votes (nearly 11% of what you need to win the Presidency). If they'd settled in, say, Alabama instead of Florida, the Cuban embargo would've ended decades ago.

          The Chinese model (trade with the Communist baddie to insure their citizens interact with and are informed about the outside world, and fully aware how much worse off they
      • I'm no historian, but here is my take so forgive me if I am wrong: When Fidel Casto's party overthrew the government in 1953 there were many US owned businesses and properties that were basically stolen by that new government. It was a hostile act and the US was acting to protect the interests of its citizens without using force. It's not the result of a bunch of old voters in Florida, but the US attempt to get restitution for taken property in a peaceful manner. At this point it seems pointless to main
        • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @09:09AM (#48913153) Homepage
          The embargo against cuba did nto really start until the 1960s, before then there were arms embargoes.
          It did start as you mentioned after Cuba seized a few US companies assets, US did a minor embargo, Cuba went in seized all other companies and the US started embargoing most trade.
          Since then the embargo has been attempted to be lifted but the political backlash from Florida and a decent amount of voters in the rest of the US has stopped it. With Fidel gone and the communist threat basically dead it is now just the voters in florida, and sugar producers who really care about it.
          As for all those properties that is something that is being discussed now and will have to be decided upon. Another major problem is going to be who owns the trademark names to various products. For example Bacardi, now USA but originally cubian, has trademarks they say they own while a company in Cuba also claims it; while there is an embargo and neither company can sell in other place it is meanless legal fight once the embargo is gone now it is a major international legal dispute.
        • by gwolf ( 26339 )

          You are no historian, right :)
          1. The revolution got to the power in 1959, not in 1953.
          2. The businesses were expropiated, not stolen (that means, their owners were offered an indemnization... Maybe they didn't find it to be enough, but it was determined by the authorities to be the right value).
          3. The US wasn't quite peaceful on its attack on the Cuban way. There was a large-scale invasion (Playa Girón / Bay of Pigs), and many paramilitary operations.
          4. If you measure something one way, it should be me

      • by gwolf ( 26339 ) <gwolf&gwolf,org> on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @10:38AM (#48913765) Homepage

        Cubans *do* have access to Internet. I (Mexican) have been there several times. In 1998, I became a close friend with a Cuban university teacher, and in 2000 I travelled to Cuba with tens of Linux and Free Software books, hundreds of CDs with distros of the day. I was quite in close contact with the Linux user groups in Santiago and La Habana, and less so but still met some people from Pinar del Río and Baracoa.
        My friend later moved to Spain. Yes, he didn't go out the most legal way there is — But he kept in touch with his family. I kept in touch with his family as well (Internet access is not restricted to the university). His mother and his sister both travelled to Spain to visit him, and went back to Cuba.
        I went again to Cuba in 2010; I stayed at the Universidad de las Ciencias Informáticas, ~10Km from the capital. The university is in a decomissioned soviet naval base; it is a huge university city, with hundreds of student dorm apartments. Every apartment has a computer connected to Internet. They do have strict quotas, but they all have network access.
        The embargo, as you mention really harms Cuba. The country is clearly among the materially poorest I have visited. Hopefully things will now improve. No, it's not (only?) a communist regime that has kept them from developing.

      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        Cuba was a colony that was given sham independence, and then started acting like it had actual independence. And the US government is petty and vindictive.

    • That's exactly what I'd say to a journalist to make it less likely that the police take an interest in what I'm doing.
    • The NSA is already going through your bank statements, and emails because you used the words destroying and communism in the same sentence.

      Do you really think that America is any better? we give up rights to the government daily. just look at the TSA. you have to have a body cavity search just to board a plane now. They want to expand the TSA to cover all transportation too.

      • Well you are stating in a public forum that you think the TSA is a repression of the people by the government, are comfortable doing so, and I assume are doing things to see it's abolished ?

        I think you contradicted your own position.

        I have many friends that came here from Cuba. Would you care to argue with them ?

        P.S. They wouldn't be nearly as polite as myself.

        P.P.S. That would be if they managed to stop laughing.

        • When did your friends come from Cuba? 50 years ago with teddy Cruz' s father or were they within the last twenty years. Your answer makes a huge difference. Cuba is repressive but the two facts that this localnet exists inside Cuba and is known to the outside world in general means it isn't half as bad as you are assuming.

          That doesn't make Cuba policies good it just means they are less restricive than you assume.

          • I have friends or no people who have come over from virtually any time period you care to name since Castro.

            You say it's not so bad, but people are still crossing the Florida Straits on rafts to get out.

            http://news.yahoo.com/us-sees-... [yahoo.com]

            Those people violently disagree, whats more they disagree so strongly they are willing to risk their lives for the belief.

      • The NSA is already going through your bank statements, and emails because you used the words destroying and communism in the same sentence.

        Do you really think that America is any better? we give up rights to the government daily. just look at the TSA. you have to have a body cavity search just to board a plane now. They want to expand the TSA to cover all transportation too.

        Do you think a Cuban could make a post as critical of their government as you just did? Or are you expecting to be disappeared tonight?

        • Cubans, Chinese and nearly everybody except North Koreans can make posts critical of their government. It's when you try to organize a group of critical people that they come after you.

    • Precisely. Whenever people try to make a moral equivalence between some Western nations like the US or UK and some totalitarian hellhole by saying, "The US starts wars too" or "The US discriminates against minorities too" they should remember this kid's quote. But not the bolded part that parent highlights, rather the sentence before it - "We don't try to influence the government or what's happening in [my country]." When the US starts wars that people don't like, half the population tries to influence the [wikipedia.org]

      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        When your example of change is something that took over 300 years, it may be a less compelling example than you think.

    • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

      Play Quake3 death match, or go out in the street and face machine guns. Choose.

    • explain to me how this is diffrent than any entity in the USA. Just about all US Companies hand over data to the feds when asked. Many even partnered with the government. That was in the snowden leaks, i.e. official docs, so its hard to say it doesn't happen.

      Also, from google's own website, here is the cooperation they do with the government.

      Here is government requests for user information from google:
      https://www.google.com/transpa... [google.com]

      Here is government requests to remove content:
      https://www.google.com/trans [google.com]

      • Sorry the false equivalence thing is very overdone here.

        When you feel the need to risk your life to get out of this country you can talk about how the U.S. is just as bad

        • false equivilance?

          When you feel the need to risk your life to get out of this country you can talk about how the U.S. is just as bad

          No sir, you are talking about an unrelated issue. People are not comming over here on rafts because the government is regulating the internet.

          I am strictly talking about information systems networks. There is no country on earth where such a network exists that does not abide by rules set forth by the government, and the operators of such network do not cooperate at the highest of levels with that government. This has nothing to do with communism. I am simply stipulating that you measure

  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @06:49AM (#48912575)
    Compuserv, is that you?
  • But no cigar.
  • by ruir ( 2709173 )
    Launch the MPAA dogs and another blocked in Cuba, bomb them. How dare they ran a sharing network without paying copyright fees? Bloody communists!
    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Better tell Obama to say to the world they will have another blockade because they are pirating american games....
  • Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

    So this story's real? I thought someone was Havana laugh.

    Thank you, thank you.

  • "This is a local net for local people; we'll have no trouble here!"
  • If you think five eyes wouldn't act against a group planning to change the government in the USA/Australia/Britain etc without going through the standard election process you'd be dead wrong. I would even be willing to bet money that they would act against groups calling for new elections trying to force current governments to resign.

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill

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