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TMCNet:  Google visits Cuba [La Prensa (San Diego, CA)]

[August 02, 2014]

Google visits Cuba [La Prensa (San Diego, CA)]

(La Prensa (San Diego, CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) In late June, the search giant's chief, Eric Schmidt, along with three other Google executives, met with Cuban authorities and young dissidents "to promote the virtues of a free and open Internet." "In a decade, the world will have about 5,000 million people connected to the network and (...) the greatest increase in internet consumer will be in societies that now are severely censored", said Schmidt in a March 11 editorial column published by the NY Times.


Google executives also met with several opponents, such as dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez, who created the first independent media of the island. "The visit took several months of preparation and it was the first time Google came to Havana to discuss technology and Internet access", she claimed through her media 14ymedia. com.

Google chairman described the Cuban digital system as "stuck in the 90s", as a product of censorship, imported Chinese infrastructure and the U.S. trade embargo, established in 1962 by President Eisenhower, after expropriations of American companies and properties by Fidel Castro.

While Cuba's Internet links improved in 2011 with the arrival of an underwater cable connecting the island with Venezuela, the island government says it will take years to upgrade telecommunications infrastructure, due, not just to these historical restrictions, but other financial constraints.

The Cuban government persists in limiting Internet for universities, research institutes, government agencies, or professional personnel, such as some doctors or journalist. Very few Cubans have Web access from their homes and the only option for them is going to a government-run internet cafe or to a hotel serving tourists.

According to Amnesty International, Cuban journalists are restricted by national Constitution, which prohibits private ownership of the medias, and the requirement that all the communicators must be by active Communist Party members, a process that ends up limiting not just their work but also Cuban citizens freedom.

(c) 2014 La Prensa San Diego

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