Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro, also the niece of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, has made her debut on Twitter and walked straight into an argument.
The 49-year-old Castro, Cuba’s leading gay rights activist, engaged in a spiky Twitter spat with anti-government Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez.
It was Sanchez who got the ball rolling. After reading Castro’s first ever tweets about a visit to the Netherlands and her role as a gay rights activist, Sanchez pinged her with:
“They tell me Mariela Castro opened a Twitter account. A question for her, `When will we Cubans be able to come out of other closets?’”
“Welcome to the plurality of Twitter … here nobody can shut me up, deny me permission to travel or impede entrance.”
Displaying the fiery belly of her uncle, Mariela Castro was up for the fight. She shot back with:
“Your approach to tolerance reproduces the old mechanisms of power. To improve your ‘services’ you should study.”
Castro would later remark about “despicable parasites” who criticize her on Twitter:
“Were you ordered by your employers to respond to me in unison and with the same predetermined script? Be creative.”
That was a reference to the belief in Cuba that dissidents such as Sanchez are paid mercenaries hired by Washington. But the tit-for-tat didn’t stop there. A day later on Wednesday, Sanchez tweeted (over two tweets):
“I would love it if everyone on the [Communist Party’s] Central Committee got on Twitter. We would tell them in the virtual world what they don’t let us in the real one. Good for them to get practice with plurality starting now on Twitter, soon the day will arrive when they will have to deal with it in reality.”
Not a great deal of Cuba is hardwired to cheap Internet, so it’s unlikely this exchange will been by most of the population. Therefore, it also seems unlikely Twitter could help to initiate political upheaval, as it has done in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
But accessible Internet may be coming to Cuba soon – an undersea fiber-optic cable from Venezuela has been successfully installed.