State Department’s ‘Cuba Internet Task Force’ Exposed as One More Attack on Cuban Sovereignty

Photo: Bill Hackwell

Below is an intervention by Cuba solidarity activist Cheryl LaBash at the first meeting of the “Cuba Internet Task Force” at the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC on February 7, 2017.

Even after the last presidential election Pew Research polls demonstrated that 75 percent of the people in the U.S. support diplomatic relations with Cuba and 73 percent support ending the U.S. blockade of Cuba. I am one of them. The statistics hold for Cuban Americans, too. 191 of 193 countries voted to oppose the blockade just last November at the UN General Assembly.

The Federal Register announcement says the purpose of the Cuba Internet Task Force is “to examine technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access in Cuba.”

Have any of you been to Cuba? When you go you will see as I have with my own eyes the Cuban people communicating using smart phones at the expanding number of hot spots. Home internet is beginning. Public notice is given about the plans for reducing internet prices And the prices really do go down. Cubans use Facebook and Twitter and email.

In 2009 I was with a group of British union officials in Havana when their cellphone rang — their phones worked in Cuba, but mine did not. Canadian phones worked in Cuba. Now my phone works in Cuba, too. The Cuban telecom company ETECSA has agreements with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and Google. Those agreements became possible when this government — not the Cuban government — this government stopped blocking them.

After 120 years the United States must come to grips with the fact that Cuba does not belong to the United States. How is it proper to sit in the United States State Department and discuss this matter as though Cuba is not a sovereign country?

Want to assess challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access? Let’s start with my city, Detroit. The FCC reported as recently as 2015 that forty percent of my city’s residents have NO access to the internet. Let’s use the budget for this Task Force and the previous radio/TV and internet regime change projects dreamed up in Washington for infrastructure to bring quality internet access to all in cities like Detroit and rural areas, too.

So to improve internet access in Cuba negotiate with the Cuban government in a respectful and equal way, end the blockade and travel restrictions, and return the occupied Guantanamo territory to the Cuban people.

Source: International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity