HAVANA TIMES – Sometimes it is hard to focus on the good. When people ask for feedback most often than not they get a list of the things they should improve upon. Living in Cuba and experiencing the life of the everyday Cuban can have the same consequence. However, on this blog I would like to always remain in a positive light in some sort of way. Negativity is contagious and as a future health worker I’ve got to prevent this infectious disease from spreading.
Cuba is known for their old cars, communism, cigars but how about technology? Probably not at the top of the list. To understand how revolutionary technology has been for the Cubans one must first understand a little history.
Since the 1960s the USA has had an embargo on the island. Cuban government sympathizers argue that the correct term should be blockade since they say the USA has blocked any trade from coming in and out the island. Subsequently, the Cubans have had limited economic growthdue to the lack of trading partners and cash flow capital to keep their infrastructure up and running. (Please keep in mind that this is a very short and simplified version of the Cuban embargo).
Thus, for approximately five decades the island’s lagging economy had not allowedfor any significant technological advancements. In 2015, the first public Wi-Fi spots were created at the cost of 2 CUC (=USD) per hour and prices remained out of reach for most of the population until recently. Last year, publicWi-Fi spots were implemented atmultiple universities and centers of investigation at the cost of 1 CUC an hour. The same as the price as in parks and other spots.
This outreach and decrease of price over the span of less than five years has been impressive. Furthermore, this summer ETECSA began to rollout free 48-hour trial periods of 3G phone internet service, hinting that in a near future one can hope to be able to carry on a video chatin the comfort of their own home.
This revolution has also made significant strides on an educational level.Cuba has created an intra web portal that universities can access at no cost. This portal is a closed circuit of information similar to a blackboard for any university back in the States. However, it has transformed how students and teachers communicate.
The intra web allows teachers to post class related materials, administer multiple choice exams and have regular access to their school email. This is somewhat amazing considering that previously to find class materials you had to go take pictures of the only printed copy there was. Phone applications like Zapya have made the transfer of files, apps, pictures, etc. easy and accessible in a country that lacks the materials and resources to print.
In this century, the internet is no longer just a commodity it is a necessity. The internet revolution might have come late but it came at a time when Cuba is beginning to carve out their reputation in this new century. With the innovative ways the Cubans have used their limited resources one can only know that its going to be an interesting few years.