Limited private access to Internet in Cuba

HAVANA  TIMES, Oct. 1— Only 2.9 per cent of the persons who were surveyed said they had been able to have direct access to the Internet in the last year and the majority used that service at their study or workplaces, according to a report published by the National Office of Statistics (ONE). The sample, according to which only 5.9 per cent had access from their homes, was carried out between February and April 2010 in some 38,000 Cuban homes, reported IPS.

8 thoughts on “Limited private access to Internet in Cuba

  • A tourist or student can bring their personal computer without any problem.

  • Yes, no problem bringing any type of personal computer.

  • I also would like to know if you are able to bring in an iMac into Cuba. I am going to be going for a six month period with my daughter, and have her at home school program course outline and learning materials on it. I know that they have very strict rules on what they allow and do not allow.

    Anyone with any experience?

  • When I was in Cuba in 1999/2000 working on my Master’s fieldwork (Cuba’s achievements in Information Technology, in particular the Joven Club de Computación), dial-up text access for email from home was available. Kept me sane (Canadian and internet addict that I was/am).

    I came away from my Cuba fieldwork highly impressed by the amazing initiatives of Cuba’s oven Club de Computación which began in 1987, offering training and information literacy through some 900+ community computer centres. Cuba is doing the best it can, and its heroic efforts against U.S. aggression deserve more respect from those who think they are qualified to comment.

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me when internet access became transformed into a “human right”. In my humble opinion as a researcher in the development field, Cuba has far more pressing need for its scarce resources than ensuring every Cuban has a new iMac and broadband fibre in their home.

  • Hola Alejandro.

    I think when the article says 5,9% its’ referring to people with dial-up access within the category of the 2,9% who have used the Internet the last year (according to the ONE estimate). It is true that in smaller towns some of the “cibercafés” discriminate Cubans, when I went with a friend to the Telepunto in Bayamo earlier this year, they asked for passports. Don’t know if they would have accepted a Cuban passport, but anyway most people don’t have passports as they are expensive and not necesary unless you are going to travel somewhere. In some European countries cibercafes also have to note down your ID number, but any ID would do.

    I still have strong doubts about the 2,9% number though. I think it should probably be around 20% in the general population and higher if you only look at young people. Even in smaller towns when I chat to young Cuban people a high percentage of them have a Gmail account, access Facebook sporadically, foreign news sources, they chat with family abroud or whatever. But they generally do not have the money or the posibility of doing it often.

    Also, although it is clearly not sufficent, as far as I know anyone can now access e-mail for 1,50 CUC or something like that an hour at post offices in Havana and other cities. This service does not permit full Internet usage, but I suppose when bandwidth is improving they could easily implement the full service at all the places that are currently offering e-mail, as well as the Joven Clubs de Computación. No idea whether they will permit anyone to open a dial-up account from their homes. They should.

    It would certainly remove a lot of anger and frustration from so many young people who, despite seeing the good things that socialism have brought Cuba and not wanting a transition towards capitalism, feel excluded and discriminated by the restrictive Internet policies. (This COULD be mainly because of the US restrictions, but the FEELING that people have is that they are being discriminated compared to other citicens of the world. Most people seem not to blame the blockade, but their own government when it comes to the Internet, be that a correct analysis or not).

    One thing I’ve been wondering about recently: Should it not be posible to offer Internet services through the Simón Bolívar Satelite? According to Venezuelan media this satelite is already covering all of the Carribean and has the capability of giving high speed Internet access (and is already doing so to many of the venezuelan Infocentres, cibercafés venezolanos that are connected to the satelite). If the government is afraid of liberalizing access “over night” they should consider doing it gradually by increasing bandwidth by connecting to the Bolívar satelite now, and later conecting to the sea cable from Venezuela, which will allow for even more capacity.

  • 5.9% have access from their homes? You must be absolutely joking. There is no way it can be that high. Ask any Cuban who might have the chance to have the 60 CUCs a month for the service (probably less that 5.9% of the country) and I guarantee you they will be denied the right to sign up for Internet service at the ETECSA office. It’s difficult enough to even get a phone line. On a general public level the only people that might have Internet access at home are using the logins from a foreigner residing in Cuba or a foreign exchange student. Trust me, outside Havana in smaller towns like Pinar del Rio where the ETECSA office is the only public Internet terminal, Cubans aren’t even allowed to use it. It’s not an explicit written rule, but they are denied all the time.

  • “Algunos hasta prestan este servicio por unos CUC la hora en la Habana y en otras ciudades, en muchas ocasiones me han ofrecido esto.”

    aquí me refiero a personas que ofrecen el acceso al internet a “amistades”, “amistades de amistades” y hasta “amistades de amistades de amistades” desde sus casas para aumentar sus ingresos.

  • Nunca he dudado de los datos de la ONE, que por lo general me parecen confiables, pero en este caso tengo mis dudas.

    De mis amigos cubanos, que casi todos son jovenes, alrededor del 80% utilizan por lo menos periodicamente el correo electrónico, y tal vez un 40% están por lo menos registrado en Facebook, algo que significa que necesariamente tienen que haber accedido al Internet alguna vez. Sí, mis amigos cubanos viven en la Habana casi todos y muchos son estudiantes o trabajan en la cultura. Estamos hablando de una muestra reducida, a lo mejor 40-50 personas (que he conocido durante una estancia larga en el país). Sólo 3%? No entiendo esto. Hay servicio de Internet, malísimo, lento, con cola – en las universidades y algunos centros de educaciones – pero es Internet. Hasta hace poco había muchos estudiantes extranjeros que abrían cuentas para prestar acceso a amigos cubanos. Hay cubanos periodistas, gente del sector de la cultura, investigadores etc. que tienen acceso en su casa y casi siempre prestan la conexión a otra gente. Algunos hasta prestan este servicio por unos CUC la hora en la Habana y en otras ciudades, en muchas ocasiones me han ofrecido esto. También si uno va a los hoteles en la Habana que ofrecen acceso al Internet es bastante común ver a cubanos allí utilizando el servicio (que es carísimo, pero hay cubanos con dinero). Sí, son pocos los usuarios del Internet en Cuba (sean cuales sean las causas), pero estamos hablando de un porcentaje mucho más alto que los 3% que menciona este informe. No sé cómo habrán hecho este estudio pero no convence. Lo siento.

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