Cuba’s Minister of Information Technology has arrived in Venezuela after being asked to come to Caracas and help efforts in the electricity crisis. But Ramiro Valdes is not the techno-geek you were expecting. Rather, the 77-year old Valdes is an old-hand apparatchik of the Cuban government with apparently quite a few skeletons in his closet.
I knew nothing about this man’s background before writing this, so the question that first came to my mind when I began reading about him: in what country can a 77-year old man be Minister of Information Technology? And how is a Cuban government official going to help us solve an electricity crisis, when Cuba has been mired in one for years?
But that’s nothing compared to the rest of the stuff in his CV. He fought with Che Guevara and Fidel, and is widely considered a hard-liner. He was Interior Minister during the 1960s, when Cuba’s repression was at its peak, but then fell out of favor with the Castro brothers, only to reemerge stronger in recent years.
His latest whipping horse, though, has been the Internet. He is widely considered the main architect of Cuba’s restrictions on the Internet, something he considered was a ‘tool for global extermination.’” He’s so savvy on Internet manipulation that his Wikipedia page reads like a poem to the revolution, and has been deemed to be in violation of Wikipedia policies. He is up to speed on the dangers that bloggers pose, and he is no stranger to shady business dealings.
I don’t know enough to label him a murderer like Miguel does, but there is one thing we can be sure of: this man is not going to solve the electricity crisis. If anything, he will attempt to solve the government’s public opinion problem. At this stage, the best we can hope for is that he is completely ineffective at that which he is assigned to do.
In that spirit, I say: welcome, Ramirito. May your stay in Venezuela be marked by non-stop protests, and may the banging pots and pans keep you up at night.
And may the controversy surrounding your arrival – which has already prompted the government to suggest that Cuba is but one of the many countries helping – make your stay a short one.
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