[Marxism] Cuba Becoming Technologized (Juventud Rebelde)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 9 05:22:47 MST 2007

It seems a long time ago when they first put photocopying machines 
into the offices where I worked in Los Angeles County. Bureaucrats
were afraid of these things and assigned special clerks to actually
make the copies, afraid, I suppose, that people would also make up
copies of recipes, cartoons, and other non-work related materials.
Here in Cuba, photocopy machines are very hard to come by and very
expensive when you find one that's working in a public place.

Cuba has many advanced social and political ideas, but it's rather
behind the curve in some technological areas. That is due primarily
to the U.S. blockade of the country which denied it access to and
even the possibility of earning money with which to purchase needed
technologies. Human ingenuity being what it is, Cubans seem to find
ways of getting around the various limitations which they face, as
this article indicates. Recent changes liberalizing the importing
of things like DVD players indicate the changes already now being
undertaken. And the fact that you can find bootleg DVDs, CDs, and
programs like Playstation games and so on indicate growing interest
and availability of these things. They're probably not formally
legal, but the informal sector with these operates quite openly.

What's notable here is the idea of explaining to people, that is,
trying to educate and convince them politically, of the need this
country has, to utilize technological progress and the benefits it
naturally brings, in line with the social priorities which this
country has set for itself. As the country becomes more and more
integrated into the world as it is, still dominated by capitalism,
such explanations, and the understanding which they reflect, is 
more and more important with each passing day.

Walter Lippmann
Havana, Cuba


Cuba Becoming Technologized

By: Julio Martínez Molina
Email: corresp at jrebelde.cip.cu
2007-11-05 | 15:33:46 EST

I recently overheard a conversation between two college students in a
dorm. One of them said, "Last night, a techie downloaded the third
season of "Lost" for me. The 25 episodes can't fit onto two discs,
but maybe we could compress them in your computer." The other guy
replied, "No problem. That machine can do anything; there's nothing
it can't handle, even encoded videogames... By the way, I've got some
new games on my flash memory, but my hard drive is packed. Don't
worry though; a new external hard drive is on the way."

That conversation has two interpretations.

First, it is comforting to know how, in a progressive way, technology
has increasingly gained a place in Cuba. Technology entails
development, the increase of knowledge and the humanization of work.
Any Cuban child can talk about computing in a way that would have
seemed fanciful just a few decades ago.

It is common to see people in the streets of Havana with flash
memories hanging from their necks and MP3 players in their ears,
while carrying hard drives in their backpacks. Stores here have
started to sell some of these accessories making access to them
greater everyday.

No one on the side of reason would ever oppose this increased use of
technology; nor would they want to see our youth be -if not
completely up to date in terms of technology- at least not completely
left behind due to the US blockade of Cuba and our situation as a
poor, third-world country.

However, a second interpretation of the students' conversation
involves us realizing that being "up to date," in terms of
technology, does not always mean making a good use of it

At many workplaces, people are given access to equipment that is
extremely worthwhile due to the money that can be made from it,
though the instrumentation is expensive on the international market.

However, sometimes this equipment is improperly used for amusement
and entertainment - activities that are secondary to work or study.

The amount of time spent online on personal e-mails, playing games,
chatting and downloading music, films, and TV series often eclipses
the time spent searching for information and conducting research.
This happens both in schools and in work places, where it is common
to find someone in the middle of the day playing the latest card game
over the Internet.

The solution is not to shut down Internet services in these places, a
drastic measure recently suggested by a co-worker of mine during a
meeting. That would be a step back.

What we need to do is convince those people who misuse these
resources of the need for a change. With the support and involvement
of the staff at their workplaces and schools it is our job to show
them the negative impact of their abuse.

There is nothing wrong with using a computer to watch a movie or a TV
series, or to listen to a good concert, but not when these activities
come before other more vital objectives.

More information about the Marxism mailing list