How Google Could Easily Help the Cuban People

Friday, July 11, 2014
The post below by Larry Press of The Internet in Cuba is worth noting.

We'd highlight and add a few points: 

1. Despite the PR offensive trying to depict Raul Castro as a "reformer," Mr. Press is correct to note that Raul has been a "hard-liner" against the Internet.

2. Unfortunately, those "hard-liners"-- led by Raul Castro -- remain in power today.

3. As was proven during last month's slip by Cuba's censors, the only obstacle to providing the people with Internet access is Castro's absolute refusal.

4. Even without Castro's permission, Google should pursue technological means to circumvent the dictatorship's censors and provide Internet access directly to the Cuban people.

5. There's nothing in U.S. law that prohibits the recommendation below, which shows how many of those who are currently lobbying for a change in U.S. policy care less about Internet connectivity for the Cuban people, than about providing the Castro regime with a new U.S.-financed domestic infrastructure for its monopolistic control.

From The Internet in Cuba:

Could Google provide Internet access in Cuba?

The obstacles are political, not technical

Eric Schmidt and other Google executives traveled to Cuba where they met with members of the Internet community and the government. Google is providing Internet access in a few US Cities and is considering others -- might they provide Internet access in Cuba?

Consider the following:

- Cuba has very little domestic backbone infrastructure, but they could afford to extend Internet connectivity via satellite.

- Google has satellite projects that could serve Cuba.

Of course, both governments would have to agree for Google or any other satellite ISP to connect Cubans. I believe that, if the Cuban government would agree, the US would as well.

But, the Cuban government has feared the Internet since the time of their first IP connectivity in 1996. At that time, there was high level debate about the Internet. The hard liners, led by Raúl Castro, argued against the Internet while others argued for a "Chinese" approach of supporting Internet use while censoring content and surveilling users. (It seems Fidel Castro was ambivalent).

The hard liners won in 1996, but what about today? Schmidt reports that a "number of the people" he spoke with said "the eventual model of Cuba would be more like China or Vietnam than of Venezuela or Mexico." If some of those were young government officials, there may be a glimmer of hope.