Photo: Did an Embezzlement Scandal Put an End to Cuba's Internet Plans?
In February 2011, a ceremony was held to announce an undersea fiber-optic project that was said would boost the island nation’s internet capacity 3000-fold.
However, more than a year later, the cable has not been placed and subsequently the country is still having to deal with internet speeds that would make many in the U.S. throw their monitors out the window or at the very least sigh loudly or grunt.
So what happened?
The answer seems to be that no one really knows. Two months after the big ceremony, the system was supposed to have gone on line, but that clearly did not happen, and what happened to the $70 million intended for the project?
Theories of what went wrong range from telecommunications execs cutting corners and pocketing the money to the government worrying about the rise of a Cuban Spring, similar to that of Arab countries who used have been successfully using the internet, specifically social media, to spread news of their causes and support.
“Secrets are over … We are facing the most powerful weapon that has ever existed, which is communication, Fidel Castro told Mexican daily news source La Jornada during an August 2010 interview.
Some have even suggested the cable is online, but with only a selectively chosen few being permitted use.
The Wall Street Journal writes:
According to government statistics, 16 % of islanders were online in some capacity in 2011, mostly through work or school, and often just to the intranet. The National Statistics Office said last year that just 2.9% reported having direct Internet access, though outside experts estimate the real figure is likely 5% to 10% accounting for black market sales of dial-up minutes. For a variety of reasons including the 50-year-old U.S. economic embargo, Cuba is the last country in the Western Hemisphere to get a fiber-optic connection to the outside world, and has relied instead on costly and slow satellite linkups.