Cuba & Internet access

Eli Stephens elishastephens at
Tue Jul 8 20:11:41 MDT 2003

This month's (August) Wired magazine, in a short-article entitled "7 ways to
squelch the net," reports the following about Cuba:
Cuba has censored the Net by severely limiting public access [Note: a rather
stretched definition of the word "censored" - ES]. Research published this
year by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace reports that
individuals are rarely granted access at home, and that connected
institutions severely limit browsing. There are only a few, prohibitively
expensive, Internet cafes in Havana. According to government figures
released in March 2001 [Rather a dated reference - ES], only 60,000 of the
island's 11 million inhabitants have been granted email accounts, and less
than half of those can send messages internationally. Workaround: Some
Cubans get onto the Internet from home by using passwords from their
workplace or accounts acquired through the black market.
I can  speculate that the main factor behind this story, if it is accurate,
is the fact that Cubans access the Internet via dialup accounts, and that
overseas telephone calls are expensive and the foreign exchange available to
Cuba is limited, and hence has to be parcelled out judiciously (e.g., more
money given to foreign telecommunications companies means less money
available for medicine). However, I would love to hear from those (Walter?)
with more knowledge of the "facts on the ground" as well as more insightful
explanations as to the "story behind the story".

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