Still reeling from President Donald Trump’s decision to remove a majority of U.S. government personnel stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Communist Cuba Party officials are now up in arms over a January 26 Federal Register notice announcing the first meeting of President Trump’s Cuba Internet Task Force.
The Task Force was included in National Security Presidential Memorandum NSPM–5 entitled ‘‘Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba’’ that was issued by the President on June 16, 2017. President Trump wants federal agencies to amplify efforts to support the Cuban people through the expansion of internet services, free press, free enterprise, free association, and lawful travel. The Cubans knew the Task Force was coming.
According to Granma, the only newspaper in the Cuban gulag the Task Force will “fail.” But just to make sure we know how they feel about it, they add that they view the Task Force as “part of the non-conventional war strategy developed to destabilize nations without the direct use of military force, increasingly deployed since the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan.” As with much coming out of Cuba these days, the editorial exudes weakness, fear, and more paranoia than usual. Here are a few more excerpts from the Granma editorial:
The creation of an Internet Task Force focused on Cuba, announced by the State Department January 23, opens the doors for the continuation of a failed Cold War policy, which the two countries had stated their intention to change on December 17, 2014 …
This move comes in the wake of the mistaken, poorly-advised speech given by the President in Miami, this past June 16, when he met with a group from the far-right of Cuban origin, to announce with much pomp and circumstance his changes to the country’s policy toward Cuba, which can be summarized, in a few words, as more blockade and less travel between the two countries.
The battlefield chosen for this latest aggression, the internet, shows clearly Washington’s true objectives when references are made to “free access” in countries it opposes, while in U.S. territory a mega-system is maintained to scan and gather data about what citizens are doing on the net.
The facility with which new bodies are staffed, with “government and non-government” personnel, contrasts sharply with the dramatic reduction of U.S. diplomats assigned to the embassy in Havana, which has practically paralyzed the issuing of visas and impacted services provided Cubans and their families in the United States.
They seem afraid. Very afraid.
Did you notice that last paragraph, how they slipped in the most pressing issue between the United States and Cuba, the attacks on our diplomat, without even mentioning the problem? The Cubans know who attacked close to 80 U.S. government personnel posted at the embassy. They either allowed it to happen or, more likely, were involved in the attacks. Even if they were not involved, and assuming that they did not know at first, they have also failed to do their duty and protect Americans serving in Cuba.
In theory, and law, the United States is supposed to maintain a comprehensive embargo on Cuba; however, starting in 1992 the rules that support U.S. policy toward Cuba were amended to allow for telecommunications services. While this created a political problem for the Communist Party since information flow has improved, the Cubans allow it because they need the money generated from phone calls and related services. NSPM-5 continues this commonsense approach concerning Internet services. NSPM-5 is embedded at the end of this post.
You can read the Granma op-ed here.