Cuba has one of the lowest rates of Internet access in the world, but that has not stopped Google from sending some of its main executives to discuss, examine, and explore the potential island market.
These visits coincide with the recent flexibility that the US government has gained to normalize relations between both countries, allowing executives from North American businesses to travel to Habana to advance negotiation strategies for the eventual moment when the restrictions imposed more than 56 years ago are dissolved.
In the case of Google, which is obviously oriented toward the technological market, it’s not only the chance to open up all its products and provide connections – including the eventual installment of its servers for better reach and access to information – that interests them. Apparently, getting there and settling down would not be an issue for this giant – after all, they have the resources. Rather, their interest is in exploring the current potential of Cuban developers.
In Cuba, interest in accessing and connecting with the rest of the world has been a basic aspiration of the population since the very beginnings of the Internet. State control of telecommunications, however – as well as the dominant censuring of the system – has made it impossible for the ordinary Cuban to be able to access the alternative information that circulates in cyberspace, or that from satellites. Information from the radio has been the most difficult to control, although the government has still invested great resources in trying to block this, mostly information that comes to the island from the coasts of Florida.
The very fact of being “disconnected from reality” has pushed the inventive spirit on, making people (especially young people) have to look for truly incredible strategies and solutions to feed the constant thirst for knowledge and information. From having to fix a pirated or illegal internet connection to searching for channels and third parties to help download applications and programs, to even accessing forms of financing and payments to perform credit card transactions or to simply charge for services used.
With regard to research, Cuba has made very promising strides in medicine, energy and many other areas. But again, the existence of limitations and access to resources puts a hold on everything. That’s where Google sees the real potential: human resources, the people that just want and aspire to do what they want without limits to carry out their ideas and business.
It would be very interesting to see how many novel ideas there are in the minds of these young Cubans. They could probably revolutionize or rethink many of the technological concepts we see today, open new possibilities, and eventually bring the country back to a privileged position – being so close to the number one world economy – to take back the place it once had.
Cuba was a pioneer in founding almost all the inventions and scientific developments between the XIX and XX centuries, long before the rest of the Latin American and even European countries. Cuba also played an important role in many scientific and technical fields, cut short by the events which occurred after 1959.
Google’s hopes don’t seem to be in vain. Targeting the pool of young developers is the best option they have right now. The benefits may be reaped very soon, much sooner than we might imagine (that is, if everything continues positively, without political stunts from either government).
Cuban Inventions (post-1959)
This post is also available in: Spanish
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