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                     May 22, 2006

    Crisis Among "Internet Police" Revealed in Secret Video

A video filmed at Cuba's University of Information Sciences (UCI, initials in Spanish) has revealed a crisis within the elite being trained to administer the island's high-tech industry, including the branch of the security police which tries to suppress access to the World Wide Web. The secret video, filmed on Feb. 18 and designated for restricted viewing among the island's ruling elite, was smuggled out of Cuba and placed on the Internet by La Nueva Cuba, an electronic journal critical of the Castro government. The 58-minute long Spanish language video, entitled "Necessary Point of Reflection," can be seen at: (http://lanuevacuba.com/video_Ucien_info_asp/guerra_cibernetica.wmv).

The video shows a panel consisting of the University's rector, Melchor Felix Gill, and three student leaders, including the head of the local Communist Youth organization, lecturing an assembly of students and faculty. The panel members sternly denounce "serious violations" of university regulations: large numbers of students and faculty members have been detected surfing the Internet, distributing passwords allowing other persons to access the World Wide Web, e-mailing people outside of Cuba without authorization, and setting up clandestine chat rooms. These "serious security violations" are a breach of Cuban laws which outlaw access to the Internet and the possession of unlicensed computers, except for a small number of persons considered trustworthy by the regime.

The secret video contradicts public claims by the Cuban government that the Internet is readily accessible by all Cuban citizens. Many nations devote resources to censoring or blocking individual websites, but the Castro regime is one of the few governments which tries to completely ban all access to the World Wide Web, except for a privileged few. Foreign tourists are allowed to surf the World Wide Web at a few Internet cafes, to which the average Cuban is denied entrance, but the tourists are charged six dollars per hour or more for this privilege. Cuba has been named among the world's "Ten Worst Enemies of the Internet" by Reporters Without Borders.

In the video smuggled out of Cuba, the offending students and faculty at Havana's prestigious University of Information Sciences are accused of using their expertise and government-supplied equipment to circumvent the information security laws they are being trained to enforce. The regime is especially alarmed by the fact that these alleged crimes are being committed by the students of an elite university, who are subjected to intense scrutiny by the State Security police before admission; 80% of the students at the University of Information Sciences are members of the Communist Youth organization. In the course of the video, as the camera scans members of the audience whose facial expressions range from impassivity to defiance, the students and faculty are reminded that they are banned from surfing the Internet outside of supervised classroom exercises. Details on the cases of four students expelled for breaking the rules, complete with mug shots, are highlighted by the panel members. The assembled students and faculty are warned that new legislation will make such security breaches punishable by prison terms of up to five years, and they are urged to serve as informers against any colleagues who commit "crimes" such as surfing the World Wide Web outside of class.