[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Google vs castro?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Google vs castro?

For those of you who may not know, Google Earth is a fantastic program that allows you to virtually "scan" the world via satellite pictures. One can zoom into a particular city, neighborhood, and even city block. The resolution is very good and many features can be identified, including your house if you know where to look.

This fantastic piece of technology hasn't escaped the grasp of those interested in Cuba, as the following translated article from El Nuevo Herald shows.

Who knows, maybe the bearded bastard's secrets can be revealed after all.

Internet Page Divulges Secrets of castro

El Nuevo Herald

Want to know how is the house of fidel castro, or where is his army's command post, or what are those airplanes parked in the airports of Havana?

Nothing could be easier. In Google Earth it is all explained ever since the popular program was transformed into a sort of platform for anti-castro denunciations, and where dozens of people are placing the coordinates of all public buildings in the Cuban capital and marking it with an "I"
on the satellite map.

Although most of the places marked are well-known, on the island as well as abroad due to the increase in foreign tourists, some constitute authentic revelations for most people.

Take the house of fidel castro, which has not one but two references in Google Earth's list. One of them is obviously in error, because it is located in the center of Havana, in the well-known colonial fort "Castillo del Principe" which served as a jail until the mid 1970s when it became a military command center.

That location was placed by someone who identifies himself as "Alexander Mendoza", but another person who goes by "Luisdo" places the governor's residence much farther to the west, in a place where according to the intelligence community of the United States castro actually lives with his wife Dalia Soto del Valle and some of his seven children and grandchildren.

According to "Alexander Mendoza", castro's house is called "point zero" and has a tunnel that leads to the nearby Baracoa military airport.

"Mendoza" seems informed and does not fail in sharing some details with Google Earth readers: "Underneath the house fidel keeps a fleet of automobiles, and behind the house is the entrance to the main bunker, constructed underground for castro and his generals'', he wrote.

There, "all the accessories were bought from Canada through the Tecnotex company, belonging to the Ministry of Defense, including silent generators to produce electricity, silent water and air pumps, special santiary services with chemical agents and electrical batteries to destroy fecal material and other waste''. Additionally, he continues, "castro's shower is of his same height and is of recycled water. His bed, custom built to his measurements, is special''.

According to "Mendoza", the bunker is equipped with radioactive protection, and has a capacity of survival without outside exposure for up to 24 months.

"Mendoza" doesn't reveal where he obtained so many of these details. Nevertheless, another Google Earth user who signs his name "Jose", tells him in the program's chat room, "I don't know if what you're telling us is true or not".

However, "Luisdó" runs to his aid and states: "Alexander, I have the location of the house of fidel castro. It doesn't agree with the location of your image; nevertheless it agrees with everything else you have written about it", he wrote.

And he added: "If you teach to me to put it [ the photo and text with the details ], I will do it. And I have many more things [to say and place ]".

"Luisdo" seems to be one of main enthusiastic readers of Google Earth when it comes to identifying little-known places in the Cuban geography. His nickname appears all over the map where he has identified military units or airports. He even seems to be an expert in military aeronautics, since he doesn't hesitate in correcting some identifications of airplanes in the military airports of the island done by other readers.

It is in the case of the "Ciudad Libertad" military installation, formerly the "Campamento de Columbia", where "Luisdo" remembers that an airplane repair shop by the name of "Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin'' is located. Near this place are airplanes that, according to other readers, could be civil craft such as twin-engine planes AN-26 and ATR, or hydroplanes like the Pelican, which has folding wings.

But to "Luisdo", they are jet fighters MIG-23, MIG-21 or MIG-17. Even though the colors are poorly distinguishable on the images, "Luisdo" indicates that some are Mig-23ML, others Mig-23BN, or Mig-21Bis. But there's more; he also indicates the serial numbers of the aircraft: he assures that they are 232, 714, 637 or 103.

The only thing that "Luisdo" doesn't explain is how he found all this out. "I can't say'', he wrote.

Google Earth is one of the latest products --and according to Bloomberg one of the most successful - of the Google search engine, a company that has jumped to the top of the New York Stock Exchange.

It is a virtual map of the earth with satellite photos that allow a clear view of the earth's surface, where one can even identify people walking in the streets.

The program has provoked controversy in some countries, mainly in the Arab world, afraid that their military secrets would come to the public light. Google has discarded that possibility because the photographs are at least six months old and can be obtained through other commercial companies.

The readers who place comments and locations in the program must previously register in what is called the "Google community", but none of the people mentioned identified their e-mail, address, or telephone; therefore they could not be contacted.

In addition to fidel castro's house, in Google Earth it is possible to identify the main ministries, tourist museums, hotels or points of interest. But there are errors, some monumental.

An enormous star-like feature imprinted on the ground in the town of Tarara, east of Havana,
appears as a "rare symbol", "satanic in a certain way", wrote a reader. For another, it is a"Sam-7 surface-to-air missile site". But "Luisdo" exposes the truth: "It's an old amusement park which has been torn up.

Also, somebody identified the Ciudad Libertad runway, inside the Cuban capital, as the Jose Marti International Airport which is actually located in the outskirts of Havana. The well-known Gulf of Batabanó is identified as "Matamanó".

Although most of the points are correctly identified, there are also readers who don't know how to interpret the satellite images.

In the middle of 34th street, between First and Third avenues in the Havana district of Miramar, somebody wrote on two white points: "What are these objects "

A careful glance would have identified them with only a small margin of error. They are two automobiles badly parked in the public right-of-way, an endemic in the Havana of today.


Anonymous A. Perales said...

Yes, I read the piece and wonder who are these folks who know so much and where are they now.

6:28 PM, January 02, 2006  

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