Raul Castro adviser urges “decolonization” of the internet

 havana-live-abel-prietHavana, Juin 9 (EFE) A prominent Cuban intellectual who serves as an adviser to President Raul Castro has urged progressive elements in the international community to lead a “decolonizing” approach to the use of new technologies.

Abel Prieto, a former culture minister, spoke during Sunday’s closing session of an international conference in Havana about digital political communication.

In his speech, published on the government website Cubadebate, Prieto described access to the Internet as a “social right” that needs to be extended to the poor and disadvantaged.

Cuba must use new information technologies to make society “more dynamic, efficient, participative and just” and as “a tool for the country’s sustainable human development and its effective insertion in the community of nations.”

Prieto emphasized the need to promote alternatives in the use of information and communications technologies in the regional and international contexts “to counter hegemonic practices in the digital world.”

“We must build a digital socialism, not the imitation of the Internet user as frenzied consumer,” he said. “The technological challenge must be matched with the cultural challenge and both must be tackled strengthening a collective critical awareness, with the participation of all citizens.”

More than 200 delegates from 34 countries participated in the three-day conference at the Havana Convention Center.

Cuba has one of the world’s lowest rates of Internet penetration. Only a select few are provided with connections at home and fees to surf the Web at state-run Internet cafes or in hotels are beyond the means of many Cubans.

Traditionally, the Cuban government has blamed the island’s lack of Internet capacity on the U.S. economic embargo, but with the current thaw in bilateral relations, Washington has promised to facilitate Havana’s acquisition of the technology necessary to expand Internet access on the island.