Before you get too tucked into this article, or any news regarding the United States’ new diplomatic views on Cuba, just know this: as it stands, a Cuban resident can’t read any of it. Say what you like about the content or context of any article on any site you read, but the people of Cuba by and large aren’t going to read it. They can’t. That’s likely to change over time, as the free-flow of information is coming their way.
Today, President Obama made some striking and candid remarks about our weak-kneed 50-year standoff with Cuba. Part of his commentary revolved around the information we take for granted, but a Cuban citizen can’t even see. “I believe in the free flow of information” said the President. “Unfortunately, our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe.”
In a detailed list of what’s changing, which The White House shared with The Wall Street Journal, we find that Cuba currently has an Internet penetration at about 5%. That’s among the lowest in the world.
Companies can now sell things like smartphones and tablets in Cuba, as well as the software that makes them hum. To make those devices and services actually useful, Cuba can expect to start seeing Infrastructure build-out from telecommunications companies and Internet providers.
US entities will also be able to engage in business with Cubans, meaning they can operate those services in Cuba much like they do stateside. It may not be a carbon-copy of what we find here, but it’s something for the Cuban people.
From a technological standpoint, Cuban tech is leapfrogging the last 50 years and joining us in 2015. If nothing comes of it but untouched information, it’s a start — just like our new relations with Cuba.
The technological changes won’t come overnight, but they are coming. It’s good news for Cuba, and great news for everyone else.