martes, 11 de agosto de 2009
Who Pays for Yoani Sánchez’s Blog Therapy?
By Norelys Morales Aguilera
Some experienced bloggers argue that personal blogs are a therapy. For Yoani Sánchez, the therapy for her frustration is a clever communications product that is keeping right-wing, counter-revolutionary and other anti-Cuba elements really happy.
An objective look at the site and the author, as becomes serious journalism, raises many a suspicion.
Among the millions of blogs on the Internet on just about any subject, it cannot be a chance occurrence that Generation Y may have been chosen by Grupo Prisa, as is not the prominence surrounding any opinion by this madam, elevated to the rank of "an authorized voice" by the Spanish newspaper El País for any insult it may want to hurl at Cuba. Stepping over other arrivistes with no lesser “merits,” Yoani perfectly suits the needs of her employers in the cyber-dissidence: being a sort of “virtual contractor” who is on the scene yet avoids the “repression and censorship,” in the Cuban case, allowing her to grant interviews left and right and to post stuff on her site peacefully without disruption, as has been reported by the foreign press in Havana, even make surveys, as Yoani herself has explained.
Reviewing the arguments raised by fellow Cubans like M. H. Lagarde and Rosa Miriam Elizalde, some questions come to mind. These are not intended to be uncomfortable, just obvious.
1) How comes the US Treasury Department issued the order—accomplished on the spot—to vanish more than 80 websites somehow related Cuba on grounds that they promoted trade with the island and “violated U.S. law,” and it has not taken note of the money traffic via Yoani’s Internet site?
Generation Y carries in a prominent place a link to purchase Yoani’s book Cuba libre in Italian. This is something that anyone can do through PayPal, except a Cuban living in Cuba, because it contravenes regulations contained in the US blockade against the island, which is very clear regarding the prohibition on electronic commerce.
Many journalists without a steady job would certainly love to “have the skills” to use the administration tools and services, with payment gateway for electronic money transfers using credit cards. And let no one be mistaken: Generation Y has its Copyright © 2009 - All Rights Reserved, something no Cuban blogger can do from the Island
2) Who designed the blog’s technical support? Who is in charge of its maintenance? How much does it cost to customize this software? The site’s technical support, which serves this one blog almost exclusively, is the type of tool that is specially designed by a computer expert, whose annual salary is not going to be paid by Yoani through her royalties. Her “patriotism” does not go that far, although money would not be the problem for her.
According to data from Internet domains about the Desde Cuba portal, which hosts Yoani’s blog, it uses the Joomla system. This is a complex management system for dynamic websites and a content management system, whose modules can only be enabled by someone with advanced knowledge of computers. And this is, of course, not madam’s case.
3) While the Generation Y blog seems simple in its design, a blogger’s eye quickly finds this is no ordinary blog from the point of view of its technical requirements.
It has versions in 18 languages (not a simple translator installed by any blogger), a high traffic, with hundreds of comments under each post, and resources for Internet advertising and to store the site’s memory for a long time. Such features can only be kept by means of abundant funds. Just to handle the traffic that the page generates and the GBs of stored comments, in addition to the administration services, Generation Y would need to count on money, especially with servers in Europe, which are not free!
4) Who is Josef Biechele, Yoani’s old friend who for years has been charitably in charge of the Desde Cuba server outside of the country? He certainly must know how to subsidize the portal, hosted in a server of the company Cronon AG Regensburg, a subsidiary of Germany’s Strato.
If you visit the web site of this Internet provider at http://www.cronon-isp.net/index.html you will see that a common user, in this case a blogger, could not be among its clients.
The menu is not shown nor the price list, or the terms and characteristics of services. Why is it indicated that one needs to write to this "Professional IT-Services" company and directly ask how much it would cost to host a site there? This means that the service is offered via a direct contract and not promoted.
Cronon AG, it seems, does not rely in publicity and is confident enough that its potential clients will find the company online or come to it via recommendations. This highly unusual or exclusive approach to the telecommunications market raises suspicions regarding its client list.
5) Who pays for what Cronon AG reports as the features of its servers, in German? These are presented as follows:
• Total area of more than 3500 m2 (of net exhibition space)
split in 6 halls
• Bandwidth: External connections: 2 x 20 Gbit/s for the Freenet backbone, 1 x 10 Gbit/s for the DE-CIX Frankfurt, smaller connections of bandwidth of up to 155 Mbit
• 1 GBit input and output transport
• Start/Electric System:
48 and 230 volts in all ambits
Multiple redundant UPS units (split for each the 230 and 48 volts)
• Emergency power sources: 4 x diesel engines and 2 x diesel reserve engines
One megawatt power (6 megawatts total benefit)
• 45.000 litres of continually preheated gas oil in storage, readily available in 40 seconds
• 6 dedicated stations with a 1 megawatt transformer
• Access control:
This speaks of a server that can use “external connections: 2 x 20 Gbits/s.” In other words, it is not just another provider.
Even supposing that “the first world is full of these servers,” when applied to the Cuban reality by the grace of the US blockade—which is never criticized by Yoani—it shows that the site hosting the Generation Y blog has 60 times the bandwidth that the whole of Cuba has available for all its Internet users!
6) What was the company used to obtain the domain registration of Yoani’s blog? Well, it was simply GoDaddy, the company preferred by the Pentagon to register the sites it uses for its cyber war. GoDaddy is the anonymous, safer way to purchase a domain in the United States, the company says.
Why anonymous if such a registration is not expected to imply any crime? Why using the same strategy the Pentagon uses? How does Super Yoani manage to prevent GoDaddy from canceling her domain, just like another US registration company did in the case of dozens of sites which promoted cultural events and trips to Cuba? Why isn’t anybody talking of the restrictions Cuba faces—even under the Obama administration—in terms of e-commerce, thanks to the US blockade?
7) Interestingly enough, Yoani’s blog was the first one to promote the subversive Granpa Internet news service, at the address http://www.granpa.info
She did not bother to disguise her relations with the Granpa sponsors who for this particular registration followed the same procedures used for the hosting and registration of the Generation Y blog in Europe-based servers.
The Granpa domain was created on June 9, 2009 under anonymous owners. Its server is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The owner of the account that paid for the domain registered the address of a credit card in the fiscal safe heaven of Grand Cayman, according to public Internet registration data. The IP address hosting the site is 18.104.22.168, which belongs to the ISP Easyspeedy Networks.
Granpa is an exclusive service for Cuba, with the particularity that anyone can register a phone number working on the island without the approval of its owner. Those who own cell phones in Cuba do not receive any access code to confirm their acceptance to receive daily headline news, picked from three fiercely anti-Cuba papers: El Nuevo Herald of Miami and Cubaencuentro and Penúltimos Días of Spain.
Actually, this service is meant to send mass messages, even if the user has not requested, in open violation of standards protecting the privacy of Internet users and anti-spam regulations. As it is well known, international sms services are not a free choice for cell phones.
The Vodafone site, a provider of telecommunication services in Spain, shows that sending messages to other countries in Europe and abroad ranges between 1.16 and 2.50 Euros a message. You can check it at http://www.vodafone.es/particulares/tarifas/viajar-al-extranjero/sms-mms/euros.
Considering these rates, how much are these mass sms services from Europe to Cuba, under which bases are they sent, and who is financing them?
8) How many bloggers in the world have Spain’s Grupo Prisa as their manager? Why has Prisa, which is supposedly undergoing a hard financial crisis, been able to purchase Noticias 24—the most aggressive website against the Venezuelan government—and to pay Yoani a 15,000-Euro prize? No less than via the Ortega y Gasset Prize, traditionally granted to personalities in the field of arts, with a rich record in that field of knowledge, which is absolutely not the case here.
How comes Italy’s Rizzoli publishing house paid 50,000 Euros to an unknown “writer”? Such an amount of money was never given to, say, Alejo Carpentier, Jose Lezama Lima, or any other unquestionable figures of Cuban literature. The list adds some 100 other prizes, including a recent mention at the Maria Moors Cabot, of the University of Columbia.
I do not intend to accuse Yoani of being a mercenary, No way! She has already accused herself! The image they have designed for her is even supported by her lying self-proclamation of being a revolutionary, only that she is disappointed and frustrated, and all that goes because of her “suffering” and her therapy on her blog, which someone pays for, on account of her “great patriotic sacrifices” (money has no homeland).
Aren’t all those aforementioned facts reasons to think of a sophisticated kind of marketing strategy against Cuba? Could her blog have such large visibility without a strong economic support, hidden behind prizes?
Yoani does not speak to the average Cuban citizen, who might tell her to get lost, but she voices her whining through messages designed following the principles of the Pentagon’s cyber war, with wicked interests that we can not suppose she ignores, as she cannot ignore those financing the therapy for her frustrations.