01/30/04 — Crackdown: Castro discourages access to Internet

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Crackdown: Castro discourages access to Internet

The State Department believes Cuba is developing biological weapons.

Last year it imprisoned in one fell swoop about 80 of its people — union leaders, librarians, journalists and advocates of human rights and democracy. Their crime was to circulate a petition asking for free speech and the freedom to associate with whom they please. Even Amnesty International, no special friend of the United States, protested.

Nearly 10 percent of Cuba’s population of 11 million is in exile.

Anyone trying to escape the repression of President Fidel Castro’s regime is punished or may learn that his family is punished in his stead.

Any Cuban leaving the country must have the government’s permission. Any Cuban moving from one place to another within the country needs the government’s permission. Any Cuban who lives elsewhere and wishes to visit the home island needs the government’s permission.

The firing squad has been reinstated in Cuba. Three freedom-hungry Cubans who tried to get to the United States by seizing a ferry were the first ones killed. No one was hurt in their hijack attempt, and the three did not resist arrest.

Castro continues to maintain repression of churches. His Communist government makes it almost impossible for a church to get a building permit.

Such things — and worse — have been happening in Cuba for the 40-odd years since Castro seized power. Now there is more.

The Cuban government has tightened its controls over the Internet by prohibiting access via the government phone service that most ordinary citizens have in their homes.

This is not surprising. Dictators seek to control the information that flows through their realm, and the Internet is one of the greatest sources of information and enlightenment that has ever been available to Man.

By denying access to it, Castro can hide some of his sins from his rueful subjects, making it easier for his propagandists to control their minds. Add that to the torture, slavery and murder of which his regime is guilty.

Keep these things in mind when our representatives in government talk about relaxing our embargoes on Castro’s Cuba. There is no virtue in anything that will help keep that dreadful regime in power.

Published in Editorials on January 30, 2004 11:53 AM