Cuba: The internet cable that never brought internet

Amazingly, there are some who are actually surprised the Cuban people still do not have access to the internet a year after the much ballyhooed internet cable from Venezuela was installed. Apparently, it has not yet occurred to these “journalists” that perhaps the reason is because Cuba is run by a totalitarian dictatorship that has a deathly fear of unfiltered information entering the island.

Someone ought to drop them a note…

Via the AP:

In Cuba, mystery shrouds fate of Internet cable

HAVANA (AP) — It was all sunshine, smiles and celebratory speeches as officials marked the arrival of an undersea fiber-optic cable they promised would end Cuba’s Internet isolation and boost web capacity 3,000-fold. Even a retired Fidel Castro had hailed the dawn of a new cyber-age on the island.

More than a year after the February 2011 ceremony on Siboney Beach in eastern Cuba, and 10 months after the system was supposed to have gone online, the government never mentions the cable anymore, and Internet here remains the slowest in the hemisphere. People talk quietly about embezzlement torpedoing the project and the arrest of more than a half-dozen senior telecom officials.

Perhaps most maddening, nobody has explained what happened to the much-ballyhooed $70 million project.

“They did some photo-op … and then that scandal came out, and then it just disappeared from human consciousness,” said Larry Press, a professor of information systems at California State University, Dominguez Hills, who studies Cuba, referring to foreign media reports and whispers by diplomats that several executives at state phone company Etecsa and the two senior officials in the Telecommunications Ministry were arrested last year.

The cable was strung from Venezuela with the help of key ally Hugo Chavez. Government officials said from the start that the bandwidth boon would be prioritized for hospitals, universities and other usage deemed in service of the common good; the legions of Cubans with little or no access to the Internet from their homes would have to wait.

But a dozen employees of public institutions interviewed by The Associated Press said they have seen no noticeable improvement in their work connections. If anything, they say, download speeds have even gotten a little slower.

Going online in Cuba will try the patience of anyone who’s ever had a taste of high-speed DSL connections.

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