Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Sen. Marco Rubio says Castros, not embargo, reason Cubans don’t have
Internet
BY LAUREN CARROLL AND STEVE CONTORNOPOLITIFACT
12/26/2014 3:49 PM 12/26/2014 3:51 PM

MOSTLY TRUE: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is right that the Cuban
government has nearly complete control over the Internet, keeping
millions of Cubans from getting access, says PolitiFact Florida. J.
SCOTT APPLEWHITE AP
Story
Comments
There’s a good chance most Cubans won’t be able to read this article.
And the reason why — lack of Internet access — is a point of a
contention between President Barack Obama and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Obama on Wednesday, Dec. 17 announced sweeping changes to the United
States’ decades-old isolation policy against Cuba, promising renewed
diplomatic relations and an easing of regulations on commerce. Obama
said the drastic shift in approach to the Communist-controlled island
would help bolster the Cuban people, who he said have suffered from
America’s cold shoulder.

“I believe in the free flow of information,” Obama said. “Unfortunately,
our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has
empowered individuals around the globe.”

Rubio, a Florida Republican and a Cuban American, chastised Obama’s
comments in an animated rebuttal.

“The president said that the people of Cuba do not have access to
advanced, 21st century modern technology for communications and
telecommunications because of the U.S. embargo. That is false,” Rubio
said. “The reason why they don’t have access to 21st century
telecommunications — like smart phones, like access to the Internet — is
because it is illegal in Cuba.”

Obama’s statement wasn’t as full-throated as Rubio made it sound. And
some of what Obama suggested is true, experts told us.

That said, Rubio has the better part of the argument that Cuba’s
restrictive policies loom large over the debate.

Cuba’s restrictions

Cuba has less access to the Internet than most countries in the world.
It is the only country in the Western Hemisphere with an Internet access
rating of “not free” by Freedom House, a human rights advocacy group.

Citing the National Statistics Office in Cuba, Freedom House said about
23 percent of Cubans have access to the Internet. But those numbers,
while very low, are likely inflated: Many of those people have access
only to a tightly controlled Cuban intranet that includes email and
government-approved sites. Outside experts, Freedom House said, estimate
only about 5 percent of people have access to the full World Wide Web.

The government of Cuba maintains almost complete control over
telecommunications industries in the country, and it uses a mix of
repressive policies and price gouging to keep Cubans offline.
Regulations essentially prohibit private Internet use in homes and it is
illegal to access the Internet outside government-controlled methods. On
top of that, the cost of even a basic computer is more than twice the
average Cuban’s annual salary.

Cubans who log on to the Internet do so via public, government-run
access points. There, patrons deal with some of the slowest speeds in
the world. And rates set by the government make it difficult for the
average worker on a $20 weekly salary to consistently log on. Checking
email costs $1.50 an hour. Access to the national intranet is $0.60 per
hour, and international websites are $4.50 per hour, Freedom House said.

Bloggers and dissenters are quickly shut down and, in many cases,
imprisoned. Alan Gross, the imprisoned American contractor released by
Cuba this week, was arrested for building telecommunications
infrastructure on the island.

As for smartphones, most mobile phones can send messages, even
internationally, but cannot access the Internet. GPS and satellite
capabilities are prohibited. An iPhone, if procured, would be a pretty
dumb phone in Cuba.

Cuban officials have recently indicated a potential shift in policy that
could open the Internet to personal and mobile usage, but it’s also
possible it will be limited to Cuba’s intranet and email.

Such promises have been made before. Cuba installed a 1,600 kilometer
fiber-optic cable between the island and Venezuela in 2011 with
financial help from China (a project completed despite the U.S. embargo,
it should be noted). It was supposed to increase speeds and access for
Cubans. Actual advances have been modest.

And it’s not as though the United States is the only country capable of
supplying Cuba with telecommunications technology in today’s global
economy. The regime has prioritized preventing political dissent over
technological advancement. There’s no guarantee that will change if U.S.
policy does.

This is why Rubio is right in saying that the U.S. embargo is far from
the only factor affecting access. Sure, Cuba is poor and has bad
infrastructure, but there are poorer countries with better Internet
access, said Larry Press, an information systems professor at California
State University Dominguez Hills who writes a blog on Internet access in
Cuba. When infrastructure improved in Cuba, access largely did not.

“I think Rubio is closer to the truth than Obama,” Press said. “Both
have a degree of truth, but the Cuban government’s fear of the Internet
was a bigger hindrance than the embargo.”

The embargo effect

Rubio was not quite right, however, when he said that Obama’s comment
was unequivocally false.

Obama said that U.S. sanctions on Cuba “have denied Cubans access to
technology.” This is true to a certain extent. Part of Cubans’ access
problem has to do with the exorbitant cost of technology, relative to
how poor the country is, and lifting those restrictions could help that
problem.

In 2009, Obama cracked the door open marginally for American
telecommunications companies to operate in Cuba by allowing them to
establish connectivity between Cuba and the United States, and letting
satellite radio and television companies serve Cuban customers.
Additionally, people could donate (but not sell) telecommunication
devices like computers and phones to Cubans.

The changes announced Dec. 17 further opened up the ability for U.S.
companies to build telecommunications infrastructure in Cuba and it
allows for the commercial sale of communication devices and software.

Matt Borman, deputy assistant secretary of export administration, told
PolitiFact that if American companies were able to compete with other
foreign telecommunications suppliers in Cuba, there is an expectation
that it would pressure the government to create more viable
infrastructure. That could spur more Internet freedom. In a report
published in 2010, the Brookings Institution made a similar argument.

A of couple experts told us that Obama’s side carries weight because
Castro has made an effort in recent years to ease some restrictions,
such as lifting the ban on personal computers. (It may be hard to
believe, but internet access in Cuba used to be even worse.) So the
United States’ sanctions prevent Cubans from acquiring technology that
is now legal, said Julia Sweig, an expert on Cuba and Latin America at
the Council on Foreign Relations.

Our ruling

Rubio said that rather than the U.S. embargo, the reason why Cubans
“don’t have access to 21st century telecommunications — like smart
phones, like access to the Internet — is because it is illegal in Cuba.”

“Illegal” is probably the wrong word. There are some ways to legally
access the Internet in Cuba, but not in one’s home, or on mobile
devices, and not by connecting to the full World Wide Web. Internet use
is primarily restricted to government-run access points that are heavily
monitored. The usage rates, set by the regime, are so expensive that it
is cost prohibitive for most Cubans to log on. Political dissenters are
barred from publishing online and are punished if they do. The end
result is similar to full prohibition: Cuba has one of the lowest rates
of Internet access in the world.

The U.S. sanctions have played a role in limited availability of
technology. However, Rubio is right that the Cuban government has nearly
complete control over the Internet. That isn’t a result of sanctions on
telecommunication business activity in Cuba. Even if the United States
fully repeals its embargo, government control over Internet access could
continue.

We rate Rubio’s statement Mostly True.

POLITIFACT
The statement: “The reason why Cubans don’t have access to 21st century
telecommunications — like smart phones, like access to the Internet — is
because it is illegal in Cuba.”

— Marco Rubio on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 in a press conference.

The ruling: “Illegal” is probably the wrong word. There are some ways to
legally access the Internet in Cuba, but not in one’s home, or on mobile
devices, and not by connecting to the full World Wide Web. Internet use
is primarily restricted to government-run access points that are heavily
monitored. The usage rates, set by the regime, are so expensive that it
is cost prohibitive for most Cubans to log on. Political dissenters are
barred from publishing online and are punished if they do. The end
result is similar to full prohibition: Cuba has one of the lowest rates
of Internet access in the world. The U.S. sanctions have played a role
in limited availability of technology. However, Rubio is right that the
Cuban government has nearly complete control over the Internet. That
isn’t a result of sanctions on telecommunication business activity in Cuba.

We rate this claim: Mostly True.

Politifact Florida is a partnership between The Tampa Bay Times and the
Miami Herald to check out truth in politics.

Source: Sen. Marco Rubio says Castros, not embargo, reason Cubans don’t
have Internet | The Miami Herald –
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article5013537.html


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