Cuba’s Computer Clubs – Another Endangered Social Achievement
Cuba’s Computer Clubs: Another Endangered Social Achievement
September 8, 2014
Isbel Díaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES – Computer and electronics clubs (Joven Club de Computacion
y Electronica) in Cuba’s province of Artemisa have begun charging users
for their services, yet another measure by the Cuban government that is
reverting the country’s social achievements, including those in the
field of education.
As of August 25 this year, visitors to these facilities located in
Artemisa’s provincial capital must pay two Cuban pesos per hour to use
the computers available there.
Anamaris Solorzano Chacon, National Director for Institutional
Communication, announces that “it is an experimental measure for the
time being which will be implemented gradually across the country.”
Those of us who have visited these establishments know that they offer
only the most basic services and that the majority of users are
children, who go there to play computer games.
The courses offered at these facilities (including those at the Central
Computer Sciences Center in Havana, the main establishment of this
national institution) are generally terrible. In addition, the computers
are in bad condition, there are no printers and no connection to the
Internet, Nauta servers and even other sites of Cuba’s Intranet.
Despite these many shortcomings, Cuba’s Computer Clubs were extolled by
Cuba’s authorities as ideal models for the socialization of computer
services, preferable to allowing computers and Internet connections to
reach the homes of Cubans.
This network of computer and technology-related centers came into
existence in 1987 as an initiative of former Cuban President Fidel
Castro, with the aim of “contributing to the socialization of
information technologies in Cuban society.”
“These clubs are for workers, for institutions, for the people. They are
there, next to the neighbors, the family doctors – it is the computer of
the Cuban family,” Fidel had said then.
According to the official site, “the services offered by Cuba’s Computer
Clubs have a markedly social aim, steered towards the use of new
technologies as a means of addressing the most varied demands and
problems faced by Cuban society and towards stimulating the social,
cultural and spiritual lives of Cubans.”
In addition, the site makes it clear that all services offered by these
establishments “are completely free.”
Now, however, these State institutions, belonging to the Ministry of
Information and Communications Technologies, are being asked that, in
addition to the yearly budget allotted to them, they must secure profits
by charging the “neighbor”, “family doctor” and “Cuban family” for their
That, incidentally, is a strategy outlined by Cuba’s Communist Party:
the measure is based on one of its Guidelines, related to the “gradual
elimination of free services and subsidies.”
The same logic has been used to justify the cutbacks (or
“rationalization”, as they euphemistically put it) of health services
offered at polyclinics and schools in remote rural areas, as well as the
rise in prices at the main theaters around the country.
All of the country’s State-financed sectors (culture, sports, education
and healthcare) face true danger in the hands of the “reformers.” This
is known as State capitalism: the services are there for those who can
pay them, like the digital TV decoders being offered.
Source: Cuba’s Computer Clubs: Another Endangered Social Achievement –
Havana Times.org – http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106017