Censura

Mashrou' Leila performing in London, last year.CreditCreditBurak Cingi/Redferns, via Getty Images

When Egypt and Jordan banned the Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou’ Leila a few years ago because of its openly gay frontman and its progressive lyrics addressing social and sexual taboos, many Lebanese declared that this would never happen in their country.

A religiously diverse nation, Lebanon has long been a haven for artists and writers from the region, even more so as oppressive regimes continue to clamp down on freedom of expression in the wake of the Arab uprisings.

But last week, after a 10-day campaign by Christian activists against Mashrou’ Leila, including blasphemy accusations, online bullying and death threats against its four members, the Byblos International Festival, a major local music event, scrapped a planned concert by the band.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of Sudan's alliance of opposition and protest groups chant slogans outside Sudan's central bank during the second day of a strike in Khartoum on May 29. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

Since December, Sudan’s capital of Khartoum has been swarming with protesters demanding democratic elections and freedoms rather than autocratic rule. The government has responded with physical violence and online censorship. From December through April, the government ordered its telecommunications companies to block social media and to periodically disable access to the Internet nationwide.

Nevertheless, the demonstrators forced longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir to step down, and have begun negotiating with the military for a transitional civilian government.

On June 5, Sudan’s Internet was disrupted yet again, starting with mobile phone service providers MTN and Mobitel and spreading to Sudan’s other mobile services.…  Seguir leyendo »

El periódico lisboeta «Diario de Noticias», después de traducir el siguiente relato que le propuse y de darle muchas vueltas, decidió no publicarlo. Trabajé como consejero de Embajada en Portugal hace muchos años, quizás el periodo más agradable de mi carrera, más que mi estancia como embajador ante la ONU, a pesar de que mis años lisboetas tuvieron el grave sobresalto del saqueo de nuestra oficina y residencia.

He vuelto a Lisboa recientemente a presentar mi libro, donde trato de la Revolución portuguesa. Viví aquella etapa con interés no sólo por ver nacer la democracia, sino por el deseable contagio a España; Franco no podía durar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Colorín colorado

Me gustan los cines de verano. En julio y agosto voy con un bocadillo y preparado con un cojín para soportar las sillas metálicas. De chico me encantaba ver películas mientras contemplaba estrellas fugaces, comía helados y sorbía refrescos que compraba en el ambigú de bombilla roja, como la de los submarinos en inmersión. Allí vi cuentos tradicionales en versiones de Walt Disney que me emocionaban y conmocionaban, pues ambas características tienen los cuentos infantiles. En mi casa escuchaba hasta hartarme cuentos, pues había varios discos y casetes con adaptaciones sonoras que me encandilaban por su teatralidad, sobre todo el de La cerillera, a pesar de que me entristecía.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una calle de La Habana, en septiembre de 2018, con una bandera de Cuba y un cartel del aniversario de los Comités de Defensa de la Revolución, un órgano creado en 1960 para desempeñar tareas de vigilancia colectiva. Crédito Yamil Lage/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Este es un ensayo de Revolución 60, una serie que examina las seis décadas de la Revolución cubana. La sección reúne a escritores, intelectuales, artistas, protagonistas, disidentes y partidarios de la Revolución para discutir su papel en el desarrollo histórico de América Latina y sus relaciones con Estados Unidos en los últimos sesenta años.

Mientras iba en un carro con la cabeza entre las piernas y los ojos cerrados por órdenes de los agentes de la Seguridad del Estado, imaginaba la cara de incredulidad que pondrían quienes defienden ciegamente a la Revolución cubana.

También trataba de entender por qué amigos y colegas de otros países, quienes conocen la realidad que vivimos, no pueden ser críticos con el gobierno de la isla y algunos hasta niegan nuestras vivencias.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuba no debe volver a la era de oscurantismo y censura

Este es un ensayo de Revolución 60, una serie que examina las seis décadas de la Revolución cubana. La sección reunirá a escritores, intelectuales, artistas, protagonistas, disidentes y partidarios de la Revolución para discutir su papel en el desarrollo histórico de América Latina y sus relaciones con Estados Unidos en los últimos sesenta años.

“Existe una tradición centenaria de censura que comenzó durante la Colonia española y continúa hasta hoy”, me dijo hace unas semanas Antón Arrufat, uno de los escritores más respetados de Cuba mientras conversábamos sobre la nueva y controvertida ley conocida como el Decreto 349, que ha generado gran preocupación en la comunidad cultural habanera.…  Seguir leyendo »

Winston Smith works at the Ministry of Truth. Each day, the hero of George Orwell’s “1984” “corrects” old newspapers to make sure that the information is in still accord with the current Party line. After rewriting history, he puts each “incorrect” story into a “memory hole” — a slit in the wall — and it is “whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.”

Orwell’s portrayal of censorship is fictional. But, until very recently, it wasn’t all that far off from the reality. “Censorship” was an activity carried out by authoritarian states, and sometimes by democracies, which used repressive mechanisms to control political speech.…  Seguir leyendo »

China’s Online Censorship Stifles Trade, Too

As China and the United States engage in high-level negotiations over a possible trade deal, it’s puzzling to see what’s been left off the table: the Chinese internet market. China blocks or hinders nearly every important foreign competitor online, including Google, Facebook, Wikipedia in Chinese, Pinterest, Line (the major Japanese messaging company), Reddit and The New York Times. Even Peppa Pig, a British cartoon character and internet video sensation, has been censored on and off; an editorial in the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper once warned that she could “destroy children’s youth.”

China has long defended its censorship as a political matter, a legitimate attempt to protect citizens from what the government regards as “harmful information,” including material that “spreads unhealthy lifestyles and pop culture.” But you don’t need to be a trade theorist to realize that the censorship is also an extremely effective barrier to international trade.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters gather near a burning tire during a demonstration over the hike in fuel prices in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Jan. 15. (AP)

Last week, Zimbabwe’s High Court ordered Internet operators to restore service to people in the country after access had been shut down for a week. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s officials, aiming to prevent protesters from coordinating their actions and sharing information, ordered the shutdown after mass protests against fuel price hikes — from less than $3 per gallon to almost $12 a gallon — rocked Zimbabwe for weeks. Protesters argued that the shutdown’s goal was to prevent the world from hearing about the violent government crackdown that left at least 12 dead and more than 600 imprisoned.

Zimbabwe was not the first — and surely won’t be the last — country in which an African government shut down the Internet to suppress political dissent, as I’ve found in my ongoing research project tracking such shutdowns.…  Seguir leyendo »

India is now ground zero in a struggle over the instrument that so enhanced its democracy but now threatens to undermine it: the Internet.

In late December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government proposed new rules empowering it to order Internet companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove content from their platforms within 24 hours. The government broadly defines the rules as affecting “intermediaries,” which could potentially mean all Internet-based companies, from social media platforms to search engines to e-commerce platforms. The criticism was swift from Internet giants, who are calling the move a form of censorship and are mounting a legal battle.…  Seguir leyendo »

Compte Instagram de Romy Alizée.

Le 24 novembre 2018 à 10 heures, je me suis connectée à Instagram pour partager l’une de mes dernières images, un autoportrait où je pose avec une amie, et un long double gode. J’avais pris soin de penser cette photo sans nudité. Pas par crainte de la voir signalée, mais par simple choix artistique. Cette photo fut ma dernière publication. Mon compte a été supprimé quelques heures après, sans le moindre mail explicatif. Il y a trois ans, Facebook me faisait déjà le coup. 72 heures plus tard, après avoir rendu public mon petit coup de gueule et gentiment contesté auprès d’Instagram la suppression de trois ans de contacts, photos et échanges de messages, je reçois un mail de leur part.…  Seguir leyendo »

How Egypt Crowdsources Censorship

To write in Egypt and about Egypt has long meant being under the scrutiny of an authoritarian state — starting in the 1950s with President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who nationalized the press, and extending to the present. If you didn’t approve of the government’s activities, your only option, you quickly learned, was to be noncommittal.

My first encounter with the red lines of authority was in the early 2000s, as a young writer at a weekly paper in Cairo. One day my editor, a well-respected journalist who stood apart from his submissive state-appointed colleagues for his outspokenness and professional rigor, called me into his office after an editorial meeting.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cyril Almeida, a Pakistani journalist, walking into court in Lahore, Pakistan, for a hearing on treason-related charges on Oct. 8.CreditCreditMohsin Raza/Reuters

Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest English-language newspaper, carries on its masthead the image of a man’s face and this proud claim: “founded by Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah,” who also founded the country itself. For the last eight years, the centerpiece of Dawn’s weekend editorial page has been commentary on national politics and national security by the assistant editor Cyril Almeida.

Almeida writes in what some call very good English, though sometimes in ways that are irreverent or annoying to his subjects; he also happens to be one of very few non-Muslims in a media landscape dominated by religious right-wing ideologues. Jinnah, a staunch secular and an Anglophile, would have approved.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Real Google Censorship Scandal

This week on the right-wing site Breitbart News, a video surfaced of one of Google’s weekly “T.G.I.F.” meetings, where employees and the leadership engage in heated debates over everything from healthier snack stations to the election of Donald Trump.

Breitbart News described the 2016 video as a “smoking gun” because it showed Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, telling everyone how he felt about the new leader of the free world.

Spoiler: Not good.

“Myself, as an immigrant, as a refugee, I certainly find this election deeply offensive, and I know many of you do, too,” he said in his flat, nasal voice.…  Seguir leyendo »

Voladura del diario 'Madrid'. Europa Press

Hace hoy 50 años que desde las páginas de un diario madrileño se invitaba a un general a retirarse. No, no era Franco sino De Gaulle, a juzgar por su título, pero la lectura entre líneas invitaba a pensar en el otro, especialmente cuando su autor hablaba de la “semejanza de situaciones sociales y políticas con el vecino país”. Así lo entendió la generalidad de la opinión pública del momento y, sobre todo, el gobierno. Ocurría esto un 30 de mayo de 1968, el diario en cuestión era Madrid y el escritor del artículo Rafael Calvo Serer, catedrático valenciano y entonces presidente del consejo de administración del periódico.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran says it plans to block the Telegram messaging app for security reasons by the end of April and replace it with a “domestic” app.CreditAssociated Press

If you are Iranian, much of your life for the past few years has depended on a messaging app called Telegram. It has become something of a parallel, but uncensored, internet.

Since 2013, Telegram has replaced email, chat, forums, blogs, news websites, e-commerce, social networks, dating services and, for many, even television. With Telegram, Iranians keep in touch with family and friends, read the news, shop, discuss soccer, babies, marriage and politics. It’s the best of Twitter and the most viral videos on YouTube. People use it to download music and films, and, of course, to flirt. They also use it to read speeches from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who blasts out content over his official channel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nuevas inquisiciones

Trato de ser optimista recordando a diario, como quería Popper, que, pese a todo lo que anda mal, la humanidad no ha estado nunca mejor que ahora. Pero confieso que cada día me resulta más difícil. Si fuera disidente ruso y crítico de Putin viviría muerto de miedo de entrar a un restaurante o a una heladería a tomar el veneno que allí me esperaba. Como peruano (y español) el sobresalto no es menor con un mandatario en Estados Unidos como Trump, irresponsable y tercermundista, que en cualquier momento podría desatar con sus descabellados desplantes una guerra nuclear que extinga a buena parte de los bípedos de este planeta.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hijastros de Torquemada

Berlín me fascina. Es una ciudad más de gerundio que de participio, porque continúa construyéndose y modernizándose tras la devastación de la guerra y la reunificación de Alemania. Recuerdo la mañana en la que, después de pasear por Unter den Linden y visitar la Isla de los Museos, me detuve en la Bebelplatz para ver el lugar en el que los nazis quemaron los libros prohibidos en 1933. Junto a las imágenes en blanco y negro de los camisas pardas, estudiantes y profesores nacionalsocialistas cebando con libros la hoguera, me vinieron a la cabeza secuencias de Cabaret en donde una felina Liza Minnelli, con tacones, liguero y bombín, interpretaba unas transgresoras canciones en uno de los cafés cantantes que serían fulminados por los hijos de la esvástica al tomar el poder.…  Seguir leyendo »

Illustration by Tyler Comrie; Photograph by Getty Images

The Russian minister of culture has banned my new movie, “The Death of Stalin.” He said its satire was part of a Western plot to destabilize the country. Now the Russian presidential election is looming, and we all know how vehemently Vladimir Putin despises the idea of anyone interfering in the elections of a foreign power; so onto the blacklist my movie went, and no one in Russia is officially allowed to see it.

The last thing I expected was hearty congratulations, but that’s what I got from many film industry insiders. Bouquets of tweets and emails arrived telling me what smart publicity this was and how great this would look on our posters; the Russians had given us a marketing campaign no money could buy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muchos analistas de los medios de comunicación han identificado correctamente los peligros que plantean las “noticias falsas”, pero a menudo no advierten lo que significa el fenómeno para los periodistas mismos. El término no solo se ha convertido en una manera abreviada de señalar negativamente a todo un sector, sino que los autócratas lo están utilizando como una excusa para encarcelar reporteros y justificar la censura, a menudo con acusaciones exageradas de apoyar a los terroristas.

En todo el planeta, la cantidad de periodistas honestos en prisión por publicar noticias falsas o inventadas es de al menos 21, la más alta de todos los tiempos.…  Seguir leyendo »