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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Cuba's Castro clan out-tweeted

I hate Cuba's communist dictatorship. My hatred is intensified by the hypocrisy of all those on the British Left who have ever defended Castro and his regime. How is a communist boot in the face any different from a fascist boot in the face? How is Castro's suppression of free speech any different from Pinochet's? How is holidaying in Castro's Cuba any different from holidaying in apartheid-era South Africa?

To those who would say "Yes, but Cuba has a marvellous health service", I would say "Yes, but mad monetarists used to say that Pinochet's Chile had a marvellous economy - you can't use either a brilliant health service or a brilliant economy to justify making it illegal to say 'I'd like someone else to be my country's president'". If you spent your student days campaigning for left-wing anti-democrats in Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela, then that is your problem and not mine - even in my youth, I was never that stupid, and my conscience is clear on that score.

Which brings me to the wonderful story of Yoani Sanchez ( President Castro's daughter went on Twitter to spout drivel for the regime, and Ms Sanchez, a prominent Cuban blogger, went straight back at her with an argument for free speech. To which the junta's First Daughter responded with: "Your focus on tolerance reproduces the old structures of power." That's Cuban socialism for you - tough on tolerance and tough on the causes of tolerance.

As the BBC explains: "The public exchange of views between President Raul Castro's daughter and one of his most outspoken critics is very unusual in communist Cuba, where political opposition is banned and the media is controlled by the state." The BBC also says: "(Internet access) is restricted and available only with government permission - although since 2009 Cubans have been able to use internet cafes, mostly in hotels, and there is a strong black market for internet connections."

A ban on political opposition, state control of the media and restrictions on internet access - and yet, until there is a row involving a Twitter feed and the President's daughter, nobody appears to care. To which my very simple question is: why not?

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