Fighting for Florida
Last week, Senator Rubio participated in a conference co-hosted by the Heritage Foundation and Google on the Internet's role in empowering the Cuban people to reclaim their country from the Castro tyranny. Senator Rubio's question-and-answer period was led by the Wall Street Journal's Mary O'Grady.
O'Grady wrote a column, "Why Socialist Cuba Prohibits Social Media" from their conversation. From her column:
Mr. Rubio responded that it isn't communication with the outside world that the regime fears the most, but Cuban-to-Cuban chatter. "I think Raúl Castro clearly understands that his regime cannot survive a Cuban reality where individual Cubans can communicate [with] each other in an unfettered manner." He called "unfiltered access to the Internet and social media" Cuba's "best hope" of avoiding "a stagnated dictatorship" for "the next 50 years that would survive even the death of Raul and Fidel."
Mr. Rubio would like to see the U.S. go after the goal of turning Cuba into a Wi-Fi hot spot—that is, finding a way to provide wireless Internet access to Cubans so they can both receive and send data in real time. "That's what U.S. policy should really begin to focus on, a 21st-century effort."
It won't be easy with today's technology. While Internet experts tell me it is possible to expand two-way Wi-Fi communications to those that the regime has not approved to use its new fiber optic cable, access would likely be quite limited. Nevertheless, Mr. Rubio's proposal goes to the heart of the Cuban government's vulnerability.
The pope on his visit to Cuba today will see and hear what the military dictatorship wants him to see and hear, not the kind of public debate he would witness in a normal country. He will not see what Mr. Rubio is talking about—emboldened Cuban dissidents who have no use for the "revolution" of a half-century ago and if given access to real-time communications would endeavor to overthrow their oppressors.
As Mr. Rubio said, if the Cuban people get access to the Internet, "the Internet will take care of everything else, I believe that with all my heart." So too do the Castros, judging from the lengths they are going to keep it from happening.
The Wall Street Journal also posted a short video of O’Grady discussing her conversation.