Cuban President Raul Castro's daughter learned the full force of Twitter (News - Alert) earlier this week after joining the micro-blogging site to clarify comments that she made while abroad.
Mariela Castro Espin, niece of longtime Cuban president Fidel Castro, recently toured the red light district of Amsterdam as director of Cuba's National Sex Education Center, and was later quoted in an interview with a Netherlands radio station as being "impressed" with the organization of the country's legalized prostitution system, according to CNN.
Castro Espin opened a Twitter account to spell out the "misunderstandings" and "manipulations" of her words, but soon found herself in a brand new fight.
Yoani Sanchez, a famed Cuban dissident blogger with a history of taking a firm anti-government stance, was quick to welcome Castro Espin to Twitter, a place where "nobody can shut me up, deny me permission to travel or impede entrance," she tweeted.
Sanchez followed by pointing out the perceived hypocritical nature of Castro Espin's organization, which publicly fights for gay rights while other freedoms in the country are seemingly opposed by the Castro regime.
"How can one ask for acceptance only in one area?" she asked. "Is tolerance total or not? When will we Cubans be able to come out of other closets?"
Castro Espin quickly retorted: "Your focus on tolerance reproduces the old mechanisms of power. To improve your 'services' you need to study."
Her tweet must have created quite a stir because she later mentioned the "despicable parasites" that occupy Twitter. "Were you ordered by your employers to respond to me in unison and with the same predetermined script? Be creative," Castro Espin tweeted.
While the Castro family's first attempt at Twitter didn't go as planned, the regime doesn't need to worry about the Web story spreading amongst Cuban citizens. Only 2.9 percent of the Cuban population spent time on the Internet last year – the vast majority of whom did so while at school or work.
The island nation's lack of a direct connection to the outside world – along with its subpar internal infrastructure – has left Cuba with the second slowest Internet speeds in the world, behind only the remote island chain of Mayotte. So, needless to say, not many Cubans are checking Twitter on a daily basis.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves