Google Visits Cuba

Eric Schmidt the chairman of Google led a delegation of Google employees to the Caribbean nation of Cuba last week. The delegation was advocating the removal of restrictions by the government on the Internet.

The executives had meetings with Yoani Sanchez a prominent dissident and blogger who is running an independent news portal known as 14ymedio, which is blocked inside Cuba.

According to the site, the objective of the visit from Google was to promote open and free Internet.

However, the Google’s public advocacy for free Internet ran into unexpected obstacles.

Ellery Biddle an editor for the project Global Voice Advocacy said Google’s position is interesting since they offer services that Cubans do not have due to sanctions by the United States.

Biddle, who is an expert in issues related to Cuban Internet, is skeptical of the ability of Google to promote free Internet because of the trade embargo of more than 50 years against the island nation.

Biddle added that there is a big difference between what is said and what is actually done. He was not clear that Google was actually doing anything as of yet. Legal issues said Biddle are hindering the company’s access promotion to Internet.

In a number of other nations, Google and the U.S. government have worked together to help ensure better, uninhibited access to Internet.

Officials in Cuba might also be quite leery of the intentions of Google as well due to the work of Alan Gross the American contractor who was put in prison in 2009 after working on a clandestine mission for USAID to increase the access of Internet in Cuba.

Gross now is serving a sentence of 15 years for bringing illegal satellite communications equipment into Cuba.

USAID attempted to establish what was described by Cuban officials as a covert service of Twitter. Its contractors did everything possible to conceal the ties Washington had with the project.

Schmidt was joined on his trip to Cuba by Jared Cohen a former member of the State Department and a champion for digital diplomacy.

Cohen has done a great deal against censorship of the Internet, from supporting the refusal of Google to censor its search results inside China to imploring Twitter to stop scheduled maintenance during the protest of 2009 of Iran’s Green Revolution.

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