Obama’s ‘thaw’ with the communist Castro dictatorship did not improve internet access in Cuba

With the world focusing its attention on Cuba’s protesting independent artists, a narrative has emerged attempting to credit Obama’s “thaw” for the protests happening in Cuba today. In reality, these brave artists are protesting in spite of the damage done by Obama’s failed policy.

The Center for a Free Cuba explains:

Normalizing relations with Castro did not improve internet access in Cuba. Here is what really happened.

There is an attempt underway to rewrite history by advocates of normalizing the Castro dictatorship and subsidizing the military and the most repressive elements of the regime. The key talking point repeatedly made is that the Obama engagement with Havana, that led to heightened repression, and the marginalization of Cuban democrats, was not a failure because there is more internet connectivity. They try to argue that American firms can compete against Chinese firms in the Cuban market, but what prevents them from doing so is the embargo.

The historical record says otherwise.

Havana has tightened and loosened access to technology to advance its interests, chief among them maintaining power. On March 25, 2002 the Castro regime banned the sale of personal computers in Cuba, with the exception of special cases, and only with government permission. In May of 2008 the ban was lifted and the Cuban government garnered undeserved positive media coverage.

Two months after Raul Castro lifted the restriction on the purchase of laptops and cell phones in 2008, the Bush Administration lifted regulations to permit Cuban-Americans to send mobile phones to relatives in Cuba.

It is true that the Obama Administration sought to engage with Cuba on greater internet access, but was rebuffed in 2009. The White House had granted licenses and sought to encourage the laying of a “new fiber-optic cable and satellite facilities between the U.S. and Cuba.” TeleCuba Communications Inc. announced on Oct. 13, 2009 that it had received approval from the Treasury Department “to lay about 110 miles (175 kilometers) of cable from Florida to Cuban territory — seemingly a significant dent in the U.S. embargo against the island.” A regime official described Havana’s position as “wary” of linking cable and satellite facilities with the United States.

Instead the Castro regime went with a 1,000-mile undersea fiber-optic cable strung from socialist ally Venezuela to Cuba in 2011 rejecting the 2009 Obama Administration overture.

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