The Internet Is Widely Accessible in Cuba. Why Is the US Insisting It Isn’t?

Sitting at an outdoor café, Alian Rojas deftly thumbs the small keyboard on his iPhone as he calls up The New York Times website. Then he shows a reporter how easily he can use WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube.

“I can access any website I want,” says the 30-something tour guide.

Over the past 10 years Cuba has made great progress in internet accessibility. Nevertheless, U.S. government officials, right-wing Cuban exiles in Miami, and conservative human rights groups assert that Cuba intentionally limits internet access.

Freedom House, a conservative think tank, argues that the Cuban government keeps the country technologically backward and censors dissident websites as part of repressing political dissent.

“Cuba remains one of the world’s least connected and most repressive environments for information and communication technologies,” according to a Freedom House report on internet usage.

That claim plays well to those who assume that governments led by communist parties must, by definition, be totalitarian. As Rojas’s ready access to a wide array of sites shows, however, Cuba’s reality is far different.

As part of enforcing the unilateral embargo of Cuba, the U.S. government prohibits Cubans from using hundreds of commercial websites, including Amazon, computer companies and banks. The U.S. government blocks more websites than the Cuban authorities, says John Nichols, a Cuba expert and professor emeritus at Penn State University.

wifi cuba

“The U.S. government has long criticized Cuba for violations of human rights,” he tells Truthout, “yet the U.S. policy response restricting the right of both U.S. and Cuban people to freely communicate via the internet is both hypocritical and counterproductive.”

The Cuban government would like to expand internet usage as part of a plan to develop new computer-related industries. Cuba’s free education system has produced high-caliber computer scientists anxious to compete with their peers worldwide. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who came into office last year, has been promoting computer sciences.

In the early 2010s, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the U.S. government agency in charge of propaganda broadcasts to Cuba, smuggled in smart phones loaded with apps called ZunZuneo and Piramideo, which sought to mobilize Cubans to create a Cuban version of the Arab Spring.

“My students started getting text messages on their cell phones with news reports about demonstrations that never happened,” said Nestor Garcia, former head of Cuba’s Mission to the UN. “The U.S. is trying to create a climate to protest against the Cuban government.”

The social media apps failed to spark rebellion, but that didn’t stop the U.S.

In 2018 the Office of Cuba Broadcasting funded creation of phony Facebook pages designed to appear as if they were posted by Cubans discontented with the government. When Russian hackers carried out similar activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, U.S. politicians across the political spectrum expressed outrage.

U.S. actions against Cuba are similar to Russia’s actions against the U.S., according to Nichols. “It’s covert interference in the communications system of another country for the purpose of changing the relationship of the government and people,” he said. “If we do not like others interfering in our domestic affairs, it only makes sense we shouldn’t do the same to other countries.”

Needless to say, the phony Facebook pages also failed to spark an anti-government rebellion.

  • Published in Cuba

Internet and the dirty U.S. war on Cuba

Funds allocated by the U.S. government to promote regime change in Cuba are euphemistically camouflaged as "pro-democracy programs" to finance mercenary groups, scholarships to train young Cubans as fake leaders, and a dirty Internet war.

One of the most widespread falsehoods disseminated about Cuba is to present the Cuban Revolution as an enemy of the Internet. This lie is based on distortions of our condemnation of U.S. strategies using telecommunications in its anti-Cuban efforts, while the fact is hidden that Wall Street does everything it can to limit our people’s access to those technologies.

Our e-mails, tweets, online presentations and Facebook posts contribute to the massive volume of data generated every day on the Internet. Today, analysts can construct models capable of predicting political preferences, sexual orientation, etc, all from the information that users themselves provide on social networks.

It has been documented that the Political Action Group (GAP) which is part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Center, carries out projects that include the creation of communications and Internet access structures in countries or regions targeted for aggression.

In Bolivia, more than 68,000 fake Twitter accounts were created in the days leading up to the coup of November, 2019. Meanwhile, Iran suffered a wave of violence, during which the same tactic used in Bolivia was repeated: armed groups, perfectly coordinated, used the technique of "swarming" to communicate, organizing actions with text messages establishing meeting points for attacks. The aggression came to a halt when the government shut down the Internet and wireless networks, as occurred during the 2009 elections, in what became known as the Green Wave.

In February of 2018, the so-called Cuba Internet Task Force was created, following instructions outlined in a Presidential memorandum on national security, released June 16, 2017. The website Razones de Cuba has documented that the CIA’s Political Action Group and institutions on the task force have highly qualified specialists who, based on models previously developed through Big Data, sent sector-specific messages to Cubans.

In June of 2019, a Twitter storm supposedly organized by Cuban users, called on our telecommunications company Etecsa to lower Internet prices. The same source reveals that an attempt was made to present this as an initiative by students, computer engineers, etc, but the alleged activists actually lived in Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. Another attempt at manipulation occurred in connection with the Constitutional Referendum, using the hashtag #YoVotoNo on Twitter.

Linked with counterrevolutionary sites and networks, thousands of false accounts flooded the island with their message, prefabricated commentators conducted "analyses" of the "Cuban situation," using well studied resources, seeking to emotionally mobilize previously identified audiences, via humor, indignation, and surprise.

The recent campaigns to discredit revolutionary artists, and the cowardly defacing of monuments to José Martí, are part of this war, with its digital correlate, that seeks to create the conditions for a "Green Wave" on the island.

The controversial Helms-Burton Act of 1996 established the obligation to fund these destabilization programs. The figure has varied under different U.S. administration since then, but the average allocation is close to 20 million dollars annually.

These funds to promote regime change in Cuba, are euphemistically camouflaged as "pro-democracy programs," which finance mercenary groups, scholarships to train young Cubans as fake leaders, and the dirty Internet war

Specifically, the Task Force, activated two years ago, given the importance of digital platforms, seems to be a defensive action by a government that has run out of ammunition in its rhetoric about how Cuban authorities deny the population access to technology, and is using this form of aggression, as illegal and interventionist as Radio and TV Martí. These are the risks for our insertion into the cyber world, but the Revolution will continue to prepare its citizens to detect these maneuvers, while expanding access to this new scenario for its social base.

ETECSA 2019: This Year Has Been One of Progress and Complexity

The steady increase of new services that certainly improved the quality of life of the Cuban people, as well as the commitment to the nation’s informatization and development, was a goal accomplished by ETECSA (Cuban Telephone Company) in 2019.

ETECSA faced a lot of challenges and benefited from several accomplishments in 2019, led by a strong will of continuing to grow in the field of networks and services for citizens, with a guaranteed commitment of quality.

This was the assessment of Tania Velázquez, first vice-president of the company, at a press conference earlier this month.

Many of the complexities faced by ETECSA are actually linked to the tightening of the U.S. blockade imposed on Cuba, which jeopardizes the shortening of terms of the digital divide that is separating us from the rest of the developed world; not to mention the damages caused by the tornado, which hit Havana last January.

To the aforementioned, we must add the challenge of implementing and displaying 3G/4G technologies, which have requested the dynamic increase of network capacities.

Having quality as a premise, ETECSA will end the year with more than 6 million mobile lines, 1.4 million fixed lines, 124.000 Nauta Hogar services, 1.161 navigation rooms — including third parties — 1.034 WiFi hotspots, and around 2 million Permanent Accounts for Internet browsing.

State-owned companies boast more than 48.000 Internet access connections, and ETECSA is working hard to offering individualized solutions to each of them, aiming to expedite their informatization and automation processes.

In total, nearly 3.268 radio base stations were installed for 2G/3G/4G technologies.

As part of the informatization of society, 190 new navigation facilities were created; namely, WiFi hotspots and navigation rooms set up nationwide. Each shows how much the company has improved.

More than 124.000 houses from each of the 168 municipalities of the country have access to Internet by hiring the Nauta Hogar service. A total of 938 People’s Councils everywhere in the island benefit, at least, from one sort of Internet access.

67% of these territories have a public navigation solution, and 49% have at least 3G coverage, which helps to get better quality in mobile Internet access, while almost a quarter have navigation areas in the wired mode (fixed rooms), and 47%, navigation areas in the wireless mode (WiFi).

As for the mobile Internet service, it is worth noting that after its launching on December 6, 2018, 1.2 million mobile lines — all met the necessary requirements — were activated in three days.

To date, there has been a growing demand, which translates into nearly 3.07 million mobile lines with access to Internet.

On December 2018, 46% of users had phones with the required characteristics to browsing, today this number rises up to 56%, which means 3.18 million users.

Of this total, 97% have been granted access mobile data, and last November, 72% of them made use of this service.

With regard to 4G technology — this service was launched last March — there are now more than 470 radio bases installed, and by the end of this year the goal is to reach 500 radio bases installed all around the country except for the province of Cienfuegos, whose technical availability will be ready next year. In the case of Havana, it is being projected that by the end of the year, 49.8% of its territory may enjoy 4G/LTE coverage.

Based on the strategy of moving 3G-network traffic to 4G/LTE-network, new offers were introduced to encourage users to exploit the virtues of 4G. One of them was the launching of Bolsa Diaria (Daily Package 150 mb / 1 cuc) for 24 hours after first use. In just ten days, more than 100.000 packages were activated.

After a first offer for high consumers, the company focused on average users and introduced affordable packages.

Thus, as of December 4, new options for Internet browsing via 4G/LTE-network were implemented. They provide continuity to that service expansion with more affordable prices.

In addition to this and as part of the informatization of society, the opening of a state-of-the-art Multiservice Center in Obispo Street back in mid-November, first of its kind in the country, was part of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Havana.

One of the many benefits of this new Multiservice Center is that citizens have now the possibility of learning more about digital services such as e-commerce and mobile data.

In 2019, as of July 22, ETECSA implemented new offers for website hosting for natural persons. This service of website hosting at the ETECSA’s Data Center, which kicked off last April, allows owners to manage their own websites for free from Nauta Hogar and national public hotspots.

At the same time, it guarantees the protection and stability of the web performance and makes easier the access of Internet users to these websites with cheaper prices using national navigation accounts (0.10 CUC / hour) from public accesses.

That month, users were notified of another new prepaid mobile phone service: Adelanta Saldo (Advance Balance Service) which allows, from meeting certain requirements, to recharge a balance advance of 1.00 or 2.00 CUC by dialing * 234 # and then check option #3.

Concerning e-commerce, the company developed, along with the national banking system, the Transfermóvil apk, which had more than 305.000 registered users in October and made more than 4.4 million monthly transactions.

Several promotions, as well as a new payment offer via Transfermóvil, are added this year to ETECSA’s actions, which will welcome 2020 with its permanent commitment to meet the needs of our users and society in general, by offering telecommunications services that contribute to the increase of the quality of life of Cubans, with a high social responsibility aimed at the informatization and development of the country.

On December 17, the company announced that six million mobile lines had been activated in the country, according to the Twitter profile of Mayra Arevich, CEO of the Cuban Telephone Company S.A. She pointed out that this figure was achieved "thanks to the effort, commitment, and love of ETECSA’s workers, contributing to the informatization process and celebrating the anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution."

Regarding the prospects for the Internet access in particular, CEO Mayra Arevich stated during the 2nd International Congress Cibersociedad 2019: “The Internet service in Cuba will continue to develop, not only regarding its widespread growth and rise, but also regarding its diversification.”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Cuba Takes Measure to Advance Computerization of Society

New regulations have come into force on Thursday in Cuba to promote the organization, development and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and strengthen security in the national cyberspace.

The legal regulations (a law decree, two decrees, an agreement by the Council of Ministers and six resolutions from the Ministry of Communications), were published on Thursday in the Official Gazette and are part of the policy implemented by the Cuban Government since 2005 to computerize society.

At a press conference, Wilfredo Lopez, director of Regulations at the Ministry of Communications (MINCOM), the institution in charge of the program, explained that for the first time, high-level legal regulations are issued to order that policy.


They are targeted at national legal entities and individuals, establish the responsibilities of each institution in the computerization of society and allow updating the regulations related to national security, he pointed out.

He added that they also allow ordering and knowing about the applications and programs being developed and commercialized in Cuba, and those in charge of implementing electronic commerce.

Lopez noted that the new regulations promote the development of scientific technological parks as part of the industry, and strengthen the linkages of research, development and innovation among universities, local governments, producers of computer applications and research centers.

Among the new regulations, the MINCOM official mentioned Decree 359, which determines the scope of the Cuban software and application industry to promote, improve and increase national production, exports and the reduction of imports.

He underlined that Decree 360 regulates the use of ICTs, the defense of the national cyberspace, and the services and applications that support those technologies, as well as their critical structures.

For the first time, he said, the digital signature with a legal force will be available to legal entities, while digital data protection in electronic support will at their disposal too.

For his part, Ernesto Vallin, director of the computer industry, noted that the institutions that contribute to the production of applications and services, including the Ministry of Education, are recognized.

There are also guarantees to prioritize the hiring of graduates in state enterprises, to teach languages, and the institutions that work in the protection of technological sovereignty are defined, he added.

As part of the process to computerize Cuban society, in late May, the Ministry of Communications issued Resolution 98 on the Use of Wireless High-Speed Systems, and Resolution 99 on Private Data Networks.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba Builds the Internet It Needs

 Professionals from several sectors, representatives of the civil society and local governments debated in Cuba on an Internet to be better.

The international panorama is today, as it almost always is, very complex; the digital panorama is also complex, a reflection, although mediatized, of the first one.

Amid such varied and difficult scenario, Cubans meet since June 25th until today to come up with an Internet with social justice and for the sustainable human development.

Consistent with the slogan of the meeting, that was the exhortation made by María Esther Alfonso Suárez, First vice-president of the Cuban Group of Computer Experts (UIC for its acronym in Spanish) and Executive President of the organizing committee of the I National Forum for Internet Governance, during its opening, at the Conventions Palace of the Cuban capital.

"This event –said also the official from UIC - has become an opportunity to bring together government, academic and research communities, managerial and non- state sectors, technical community and the civil society, to meditate on the best use in this strategic resource”.

Alfonso Suárez added that the use of Internet must be fully compatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the International Right.

Sponsored by the Cuban Association of the United Nations, the UIC, the Cuban Group of Journalists, the Cuban Association of Social Communicators, the Union of Jurists from Cuba, the National Association of Economists and Accountants from and the Association of Educators from Cuba, this is the first time Cuba organizes a National Forum of this type.

Since 2006 have taken place international meetings on the governance of Internet as a result of the summoning made by the General Secretary of the United Nations to create a platform that every year welcomed several debates regarding good policies and practices related to Internet.

Putting within everyone’s reach good guidelines that help steer the navigation and any other interaction with Internet aimed at the human and social growth, always accompanied by ethics and culture. This is the ultimate purpose of this meeting which had as introduction similar events in all domestic provinces.

Just in the same way in which the Cuban society is unique - in a world ruled by selfishness, individualism and the lack of civility -, its behavior in and ways of acting in cyberspace must be also unique.

In a world where globalization blurs at times the identities, feelings of belonging and many other features that tells apart each country and each individual from the other, it’s not a simple objective to also reaffirm the course in the so-called highway of information, and disinformation too.

Therefore, the adviser for the Ministry of Communications, Juan Alfonso Fernández González, was clear during the conference he delivered at the National Forum what was the Governance of Internet.

Fernández González specified that "It’s the development and the application on behalf of governments, private sector and the civil society, in the functions concerning them respectively, of principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and common programs that configure the evolution and use of Internet."

He next asserted that the Internet we wish for and need must be built with everyone’s help.

On the other hand, the Minister of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo, quoted that Internet is influenced by cultural trends that cannot be ignored and urged to keep on developing Cuban projects, platforms of services and domestic contents, while raising the culture of citizens on cyber security.

"Each country is entitled to be proactive in the development of the computer science society, focused on the individual, but with responsibility. Cuba will continue increasing the Internet access to citizens and institutions to maximize the opportunities it brings and guarantee the rights of Cubans to enjoy that environment, deal with the risks and challenges", he said.

There are many challenges, especially if we understand that Internet is also the arena of a thousand battles where are made more than evident the blunt attempts of the U.S. for blurring each of our conquests and suffocate us with shortages.

Let’s just remember that the U.S. has just approved more than 32 million dollars for the subversion in Cuba. This is the new budget for those goals during fiscal year 2020 that goes from October 1st, 2019 until September 30th, 2020. Undoubtedly, part of them will finance many unhealthy attempts in the cyberspace, probably lead by the Cuba Internet Task Force of the North American Department of State.

Nevertheless, while this happens and amid a blockade that tightens every time, next with the coming into force of the Title III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act, Cuba has already a history in Internet since in year 2000 started the access to it, prioritized sectors in our economic and social panorama came first.

At present, 60% of Cubans have Internet access; they do this for free from jobs and schools centers. Also, the possibility of Internet access from mobiles has increased connectivity since last December. Connectivity has increased so much that out of the 5, 5 million mobile lines in Cuba, 2, 5 millions of them have access to mobile data.

On top of the above we must say that other ways of navigation like Wi-Fi areas have also increased, with a total of 1042 Internet access areas.

There are also more than two million permanent Nauta accounts and more than 87 000 houses connected by Nauta Hogar.

The peculiarities that distinguish Cuba’s actions in Internet ratify that it has been followed the goal present in the slogan of this I National Forum of Cyber Space Governance: Internet: Social Justice and the Sustainable Human Development.

The Internet in Cuba and the Wall of Sorrow

Some who are not aware - or simply do not want to be- that the Internet is the new battlefield of the ideological war that the Empire is waging against those countries that disagree with its hegemony, use social media as a sort of wall of sorrow, either on the history or current Cuban reality.

Here is a kind of decalogue that characterizes them:

-The new practitioners of historical materialism are convinced that Capitalism is the upper phase of the Special Period.
- They proclaim themselves as revolutionaries, but defenders of a non-existent welfare Capitalism. The Left seems to be their main class enemy.
-The champions of free enterprise, based on certain political coincidences, advise tracing the economic models of other countries, but they overlook an essential difference: those nations are not condemned, by mandate of the United States, to be surrendered by hunger.
-The same people who said that we should never copy the Soviet model, now propose to plagiarize anything, except originality.
-They suffer from political Alzheimer: their memories, full of gaps, do not conceive continuity and, among many other things, they forget that if something went wrong, it was what some of those who regret now invented or applauded before.
- Sort of political two-faced people. According to them, they are not extremists because reality is not black and white, but gray, actually they turn a blind eye and only see the spots on the side they claim they belong to.

- Sometimes they work as media megaphones of the enemy propaganda: curiously they coincide in points and commas with their approaches. «Friendly Fire», which the (US) Task Force would like to implement.
- They are the new knights of the faith against corruption, as if corruption was an invention of Socialism and not a consequence of inequality, developed, in its maximum expression, in the Capitalism they advocate.
- "Experts" in all topics, they have discovered that -apart from the blockade of the United States, the same one that costs Cuba 12 million a day- bureaucracy, inspectors, the incompetent and opportunistic leaders of the companies are the first cause of all evils, so they propose themselves, in the best of cases, as consultants, advisors, journalists and moderators.
-In the worst, and deep down, they hope to be bureaucratic reserves, inspectors and inept opportunistic leaders.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

Computerization in Cuba Allows Improving Access to Knowledge

The Cuban Minister of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo, stated Wednesday that the computerization program of the society being implemented on Cuba aims to improve people's access to knowledge and information.

Perdomo also suggested, in exclusive statements to Prensa Latina, that the implementation of this project approved last year by the Council of Ministers dismantles the media campaigns against Cuba over an alleged refusal by the Cuban government to open up the Internet.

'For many years Cuba has been demonized with Internet access, because they said it was linked to people not having access to information, and there is a country (Cuba) and a Revolution that has prioritized it above all else', said the official, who spoke Tuesday before members of the National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP, Parliament).

He indicated to guarantee ways for Cubans to appropriate information is in line with Fidel Castro's ideas, who always advocated an increasingly educated society.

Perdomo explained the computerization program in Cuba has several corners and one of the essential is the infrastructure and telecommunications services, including access to the network of networks.

He said it is essential to achieve connectivity between institutions, work and study centers, services for the use of the population, including those that can be accessed from home, the recent opening of the Internet in mobile phones through data, among other aspects.

It also deals with the generation of content, Internet services and platforms for communication between people; government projects and electronic commerce, with the visibility of government agencies, municipal and territorial institutions, and agencies of the Central State Administration, he said.

The program also strives to increase the capacity for interaction between the population and the different state agencies through institutional portals and social media, Perdomo added.

He also pointed out that cybersecurity is essential and must go together with the country's computerization.

'It is necessary to create a safe cyberspace, where services have stability, people's data are protected, we defend ourselves politically and ideologically from enemy subversion, which is very strong in this sector', he acknowledged.

He also added it is intended the people share information with the world, and defend their ideas, their culture and the nation's identity.

  • Published in Cuba

ETECSA broadens its services. Full Internet access for mobile phones

People in Cuba will soon be able to access the internet from their mobile phones for the first time after the government announced it would launch a 3G service.

The president of the state telecoms company, Mayra Arevich, announced on television on Tuesday evening that the long-awaited service would begin on Thursday.

The 3G mobile service will open up the net to browsing in many more places across the island. The data packages available from the state-run company range from 600 megabytes for 7 CUC to 4 gigabytes for about 30 CUC.

These prices are broadly in line with what is available in other countries.

ETECSA vice-president Tania Velazquez said the company would be rolling out the service over several days to avoid the network congestion that occurred during mobile Internet testing earlier this year.

Ms Velazquez announced that access to state-run applications and websites like Ecured, a Cuban Wikipedia, would be significantly cheaper than access to the World Wide Web.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Mr Raul Castro in April, has championed greater connectivity, underscoring the potential for the Internet to boost the economy and enable Cuba to better defend its revolution online.


internet movil

  • Published in Cuba
Subscribe to this RSS feed