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Cuba lets in the outside world (kinda)

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For the those Cubans unable to take advantage of the island’s new travel policies, now they can see the world from their couches:

“News-starved viewers watched an Ecuadorean opposition candidate liken the government of President Rafael Correa, one of Havana’s staunchest allies, to a moonwalking Michael Jackson: He walks like he’s moving ahead, but he’s actually going backward.

On another day Cubans learned a quarter-billion of their fellow Latin Americans have access to the Internet — something less than 10 percent of islanders can say themselves.

Cubans even watched a live broadcast of U.S. President Barack Obama’s inaugural address. …

The change has come not from U.S.-funded TV Marti, which few Cubans can see, but via the left-leaning Latin American news channel Telesur, which is bankrolled primarily by Venezuela. Since Jan. 20, it has broadcast live about 12 hours a day in Cuba. …

Telesur broadcasts every day in Cuba from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 8 p.m. until it goes dark sometime after midnight.”

It goes without saying that Cuba is a closed society, where the Communist Party controls the airwaves and print, and criticism against the regime is stamped out (a la Plato’s Republic).

By allowing citizens to travel abroad and broadcasting fierce debates between Venezuelan congressmen, the Cuban government is hoping Cubans won’t be too keen on pushing for more democratic reforms, says a former Cuban diplomat.

As in Russia, where there is a growing disapproval of democracy and capitalism, the regime in Havana is betting that the Cuban people will increasing approve of Cuba’s politics as they increasingly disapprove of the alternatives. I guess they’re predicting that Cubans will start telling themselves that Cuba’s government is the worst there is, except for that of United States or the U.K.

But the strategy could backfire. Viewers in Santiago may scoff at congressmen yelling across the aisle at each other in Caracas, but they may begin wishing that wishing that their own representatives in the National Assembly had the same power to debate and dissent.

Civil rights poll extremely well, whether you’re in Santa Clara or New York.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007,, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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