Big brother in Havana

Spend the last two weeks on vacation (and totally off-line) in Cuba and have begun uploading pictures to flickr. will try to give a bit of context to some of the pictures here in the next couple of days…

The fact that cuba is one of the last remaining ‘communist’ one party states becomes immediately obvious once you arrive there: The most visible trace of this is an abundance of propaganda murals, hoardings and references to revolutionary heros (including pre-revolutionary, bourgeois independence fighters like José Martí). The next thing you notice is the almost complete absence of modern communication tools from public life. almost no-one (except taxi drivers and fire fighters) uses mobile phones in public and internet is available only through a handful of state licensed communication centers (this situation makes for an excellent vacation).

Predictably though it appears that the cuban authorities do have access to the newest technologies when it comes to controlling the population. Some urban neighborhoods seem to be completely covered with CCTV cameras. While strolling through Centro Havana (a predominately residential neighborhood) on our last day, we noticed 360 degree field of vision CCTV cameras on every 2nd intersection. Given that Havana Centro has a grid layout this means that the entire neighborhood is covered by these remote controlled cameras and makes it clear that somebody is methodologically watching the neighborhood. The fact that this somebody bothered to figure out exactly how many cameras are necessary to have a view of the entire area makes this arrangement much more chilling that the chaotic abundance of CCTV cameras in many places of the UK which seems to lack the methodological zeal exhibited by the Cuban Big Brother.

Also these cameras – being the most shiny things in public view – make a nice visual contrast to the decaying environment of Havana Centro:

CCTV camera on a street corner in Havana Centro. more here …
Show Comments