January 11, 2004


Cuba allegedly has a 96% literacy rate. Which isnít much use when the internet is banned:

A new law has been passed in Cuba which will make access to the internet more difficult for Cubans.

Only those authorised to use the internet from home, such as government employees and doctors, will be able to do so on a regular telephone line.

The bill says the state phone company Etecsa will use technical means to detect and impede access.

It will take effect on Saturday, according to a letter sent by Etecsa internet service E-net on Friday to customers.

The Cuban Government passed a decree last year that the internet could only be accessed using a more expensive telephone service charged in US dollars, not generally available to ordinary Cubans.

Way to keep your people poor and stupid, Fidel.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 11, 2004 02:24 PM

Iím never much impressed with Communists achieving high literacy rates in Spanish-American countries. As anybody who knows both Spanish & English knows, itís much easier to learn to read Spanish than to read English. Spanish is spelt so phonetically that to know the spelling is to know the pronunciation, & to know the pronunciation is to have a good idea of the spelling. English, on the other hand, is one of the most deceptively spelt languages on Earth, & to top it off there is considerable variation in the pronunciaion of the rather numerous English vowels.

Posted by: ForNow at January 11, 2004 at 02:32 PM

"authorised","government employees and doctors"
Funny how communist countries encourage class distinctions.

Posted by: Tony at January 11, 2004 at 02:33 PM

But if the Cubans can't access the Internet, how will they read Indymedia and find out how lucky they are to live in a worker's paradise with the best healthcare in the western hemisphere?

Posted by: Brendan at January 11, 2004 at 03:20 PM

Ah, it was only dial-up.

Posted by: Rob A. at January 11, 2004 at 03:32 PM

Everytime someone brings up that high literacy rating in Cuba as if it is some sort of wonderful thing, I think about all the things they aren't allowed to read. Strangely enough, the Castro-lovers are usually the same people who go into shrieking fits if a school library somewhere refuses to stock The Catcher in the Rye.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 11, 2004 at 03:45 PM

I wisch I kud spele az gode az Casstru and kuba

Posted by: Quentin George at January 11, 2004 at 04:30 PM

Plus, how are the Cubans going to visit the website that Last One Speaks keeps spruiking? Its gotta be good, if its been mentioned that many times.

Posted by: Quentin George at January 11, 2004 at 04:41 PM

ForNow, not to mention the pronunciaion of the consonats.

Posted by: slatts at January 11, 2004 at 04:58 PM

Imagine the anguish of a starving Cuban getting on an American grocer's web site. 40 years of glorious revolution under Castro and we canít even get a pizza!

Posted by: perfectsense at January 11, 2004 at 06:09 PM

It amazes me that anyone takes the Cuban government's assertions about literacy at face value. Castro insists on 96%, his underlings pledge 96%, they institute programs to deliver 96%, and what do you know, official statistics confirm 96%. What are the odds?

It reminds me of the Soviet Union's boast that they balanced the budget every year. In reality they ran ruinous deficits many times higher than the US, and went broke.

I suspect the literacy numbers are comparably reliable.

Posted by: lyle at January 11, 2004 at 08:39 PM

The last time I heard about a "government" banning the internet was the Taliban banning it.

Posted by: Andjam at January 11, 2004 at 08:39 PM

The 96% literacy claim is standard propaganda from a communist regime.
After being in power for a couple of years the Sandinista's claimed that illiteracy had been wiped out in Nicaraugua.
The issue is what is literacy? To communists it's being able to recite a few choice slogans.

Posted by: Reid of America at January 11, 2004 at 10:44 PM

But no one is addressing the critical question - can the Cubans get to porn?

Posted by: Bill at January 12, 2004 at 12:30 AM

I'm no great leader but I think even I could get a brilliant literacy rate and a great medical service if I paid all teachers and doctors so little that they had to take part-time jobs to survive, and prevented them from leaving the country.

Posted by: dc at January 12, 2004 at 01:07 AM

That's why we don't have those spelling contests we see in american movies, ForNow.

Posted by: Daniel RodrŪguez at January 12, 2004 at 01:29 AM

But if the Cubans can't access the Internet, how will they read Indymedia and find out how lucky they are to live in a worker's paradise with the best healthcare in the western hemisphere?

Indymedia is having its own problems accessing the internet.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at January 12, 2004 at 01:33 AM


What you correctly reasoned happenned to the amazing Cuban literacy rate, happens in every aspect of Cuban life. It is encapsulated in the Soviet worker's description of their relationship with their employees, the Party bosses: "we pretend to work, they pretend to pay us."

Furthermore, I know this from a very near hearsay. My mother was the Economist for a Cuban "Empresa" (giant, wasteful, government pseudocompany.) In practice, since the three men above her were political appointees, she ran the whole thing. I won't go into details, but, amazingly, she always met or surpased the goals laid for the Empresa at the beginning of the year, regardless of the resources available to her.

Posted by: Sorge at January 12, 2004 at 01:47 AM

In 2003, if one does not know English and does not know how to use the internet, then one is functionally illiterate. There goes Cuba's 96% literacy rate.

Posted by: Ed at January 12, 2004 at 02:24 AM

lol and that goes for 2004 too (sheesh I do this every January)

Posted by: Ed at January 12, 2004 at 02:27 AM

Prior to Castro, Cuba had the highest literacy rates in Latin America and probably the best health care. The only thing Castro has accomplished is to make the country - as a whole - poorer.

Posted by: Paul Engel at January 12, 2004 at 03:42 AM

A 96% literacy rate and a 100% censorship rate.

You can read: but only what el commandante lets you.

As Baba Walters said, "If literacy were the definition of freedom, Cuba would be one of the freest nations on earth."
Yes. IF a dictionary was as obtuse as BW.

Posted by: Bleeding heart conservative at January 12, 2004 at 03:47 AM

I can't believe the cynicism I am seeing here about our Uncle Fidel. People want to know how a poor country can produce a 96% literacy rate. I tell you it is simple, and only you dumb Americans could fail to see it.

Let's say you have 150 people, and 96 of them can read. How much money is required for books and teachers to attain a 96% literacy rate in this group? Ha! Stupid Americans. The answer is NONE.

What is required is 50 bullets.

With such obvious ignorance and sloppy thinking it is no wonder that El Presidente seeks to protect us from the influence of you capitalist pigdogs.

Posted by: jmr at January 12, 2004 at 04:10 AM

96% eh.
Just like Saddam was elected with 100%.

Posted by: BAM at January 12, 2004 at 04:41 AM

Without the internet how are the Cubans going to post to the Democratic Underground and other Castro-living groups.

Posted by: Right Brain at January 12, 2004 at 05:06 AM

Ooh -- I forgot: I lived in Miami during the Mariel boatlift. I was in high school when we had an infusion of fresh new Cuban refugee kids. Now I've been hearing this literacy claim for Cuba ever since I can remember, but most of those kids couldn't read in their own language let alone English.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 12, 2004 at 05:22 AM

All one needs to know about the Cuban literacy, health care, and longevity statistics is that they are provided by Cuban government itself.

For some reason, many people who read Consumer Reports because they don't trust advertising and who have called for outside auditing to prevent future Enrons have a blind spot which prevents them from seeing the obvious parallels.

Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at January 12, 2004 at 05:38 AM

This is terrible news! What will happen to "Indymedia Cuba" if Cubans aren't allowed to access the internet?

Posted by: Michael Levy at January 12, 2004 at 05:42 AM

No internet, no free press but they can watch all the Danny Glover movies they can stand.

Posted by: logiccop at January 12, 2004 at 07:40 AM

BleedingHeart... that would be "if a dictionary WERE as obtuse...." Um... speaking of literacy, you ass.

Posted by: kd at January 12, 2004 at 01:08 PM