Cuban officials and state media marked the recent celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Communist Party rule in China by emphasizing China’s economic might and the importance of bilateral ties. State media also extensively covered the PRC ambassador’s praise for China’s economic achievements under Communist rule, but may have intended this and other coverage more to justify the Cuban Government’s chosen limited economic measures than to signal any shift in Cuba’s economic policy. Cuban officials have continued to cultivate close Chinese ties since the November 2008 visit by President Hu Jintao.
A small but growing number of bloggers who appear to be writing from Cuba are using externally hosted websites to voice dissent and developing inventive ways to circumvent government restrictions on Internet access that limit their freedom to post. While the blogs’ emergence has coincided with the move toward more openness in state media about discussing social and economic problems in the past two years, the bloggers go well beyond that limited criticism by blaming the ruling system rather than individuals or external pressure. The government thus far largely has acted indirectly against the bloggers, warning about the dangers of the Internet and reportedly blocking access to a host website. The bloggers tend to express pessimism about prospects for change under Raul Castro, but they currently are not promoting a specific political agenda or calling for any organized movement against the government. Although readership is mostly international, their on-island audience — including possible imitators — is likely to increase if access to information technology becomes more widespread. See the appendices for details on Internet access in Cuba and the individual blogs discussed.
A small group of independent bloggers, including Yoani Sanchez, Reinaldo Escobar, and Claudia Cadelo, has promoted blogging as a vehicle for free expression and information sharing to circumvent Cuba’s tightly controlled media environment, and to communicate with the outside world. They have become increasingly confrontational toward the government, demanding greater civil liberties and criticizing many government policies . Other on-island bloggers — many of them journalists or university professors and students — have called on the government to be more open and allow greater access to outside information, but they generally have avoided direct criticism of it. The government response has been limited to date, but the increasingly antigovernment line of some bloggers is likely to test the limits of government tolerance.