Although the many types of damage caused by the US blockade to Cuba are not exclusive to the communications sector, this unfair policy continues to be the main impediment to a better flow of information and a wider access to the internet and information and communication technologies in general by the Cuban people, reports Juventud Rebelde.
Each month that elapsed from April to December 2020, caused damage to Cuba worth more than seven million dollars, about 65 million in that period, in the communications sector alone.
The data was presented at the end of May at a press conference by Wilfredo González Vidal, First Deputy Minister of Communications, when he gave an update on the damage caused by the economic, commercial and financial blockade that the United States Government maintains against Cuba, which worsened even more during the Trump administration.
Although the damage by the US blockade is not exclusive to communications – they affect society as a whole – “this unjust policy continues to be the main impediment to a better flow of information and a wider access to the internet and information technologies and communication in general by the Cuban people”, said the First Deputy Minister. “Connectivity is made more expensive, access to certain platforms and technologies is prohibited and cyberspace is used to try to subvert the country’s political system”, he said.
As regards this last point, González Vidal gave the example of the Internet Task Force, an entity created in 2017 by the United States Government as a mechanism to influence the internal order of Cuba and affect the development of internet, an issue that is promoted by the Cuban government as part of the strategy of the process of computerization of society.
Points to take into account
Talking about the main effects of this US policy, González Vidal said that they could be summarized in a few fundamental points:
The first is the limit imposed on Cuba for the supply of technologies and equipment produced under license or using American components, which means that it is necessary to purchase in much more distant markets. As a result, the biggest damage caused by the blockade in the communications sector is assessed as more than 90 percent of the 65 million loss.
An important limit is that Cuba cannot acquire items that contain more than ten percent of US components, a measure that the US Department of Commerce has intensified since October 2019.
That makes it impossible to access high-performance equipment that leads their respective markets. For example, the company Emerson Electric, which is dedicated to energy systems, the company Western Pacific Telecommunications, responsible for supplying external plant hardware – for fixed telephone lines and other issues – and the company Erico, which markets advanced electrical systems, are not available to Cuba as a result of the blockade.
Hence, the technologies that today support the public telecommunications service are marked by having been obtained from companies located geographically very distant from the island. This has repercussions on (Cuban communication company) Etecsa’s investments, and slows down the company’s computerization process.
Another point highlighted by the minister was the effect on income from the export of services. Foreign suppliers are inhibited to enter contracts for fear that their company will be sanctioned by the United States, so Cuba has to bear financial and commercial risks.
For example, as a consequence of the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the American Airlines company decided to suspend the direct postal service between the United States and Cuba, González Vidal said. So the Correos de Cuba Business Group had to find an alternative to guarantee universal postal service and decided to route it through Panama, as a third country. This action increased the price of the tariff – absorbed by the (Cuban) postal operator – but made the price per kilogram of the postal item double. These additional costs do not fall on the citizen, but delays in mail delivery do.
Who in Cuba has not encountered a 403 error when trying to navigate certain internet pages? This is due to the fact that these web providers cannot allow Cubans to use their platforms, since as companies they are subject to US law, while Cuba is prohibited from blocking access to those services.
Unfortunately the list is growing. We can add more to the existing 20 Google websites that are not accessible today.
The video chat platform became popular after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is a useful tool that allows communication with the necessary social distancing. Zoom is used in many areas, and is the platform adopted by official international organizations for their meetings. But Zoom is blocked for Cuba.
Consequently, Cuba is unable to participate on equal terms with the rest of the member states of the United Nations.
Among the most popular sites that Cuba cannot access today are Nvidia, Oracle, Dell and Adobe, just to mention a few.
The president of the Cuban Informatics and Communications Business Group, Ariadne Plasencia Castro, said that the blockade prevents Cuban professionals from making the best use of their skills, as they are restricted in their access to these platforms, and forced to innovate to keep vital work systems running in the country’s communications.
Plasencia Castro stated that the lack of parts for three teams installing fiber optics interrupted their operations, and therefore it has not been possible to more quickly advance the installation of infrastructure necessary to support a higher stage in the computerization process of society.
Meanwhile Ailyn Febles Estrada, president of the Cuban Information Technology Union (UIC), a civil society organization, in existence for the last 5 years, that brings together more than 8,000 engineers and specialists in the field, pointed out that the methodology for calculating the damage [caused by the blockade] needs to be revised, as there are many intangible elements that inhibit the successful development of new technologies in Cuba today.
Febles Estrada referred to the self-employed sector. In the experience of members of the UIC, she said, when conducting negotiations with foreign clients they have been unable to finalize them because they do not have access to basic industry products such as storage for version control, communication platforms or payment systems widely used across the world.
The panelists agreed, however, that Cuba will continue to denounce this hostile policy of the United States Government, while working to promote computerization. Despite this situation, more than 64 % of Cubans access the internet today, and there are 6.6 million mobile phone users. 4G networks are growing, and 76 % of the population already has digital television signal coverage. However, it is important to put faces to the “bits and bytes” blocked by the island’s stubborn neighbour, who has not changed its attitude for more than 60 years.
List of free US websites and services, that are totally or partially blocked for Cuba:
Google Open Source – A web page to centralize all its open source projects in one place, allowing users to easily find the project they are looking for.
Google Developers – Google’s site for software development platforms and tools, application programming interfaces, and technical resources. The site contains documentation on using Google’s APIs and developer tools, including discussion groups and specialized blogs. Previously these functions were operated through Google Code.
Google App Engine – Web hosting service provided by Google for free up to certain fees. This service allows you to run applications on the Google infrastructure. If you don’t have your own domain, Google provides one with the structure (mydomain.appspot.com).
Google Web Designer – Google’s free program for creating interactive HTML5 sites and ads on any device. Offers a graphical interface with common design tools, as well as a text tool that integrates with Google Web Fonts, a shape tool, a pen, and 3D shapes. It was released by Google on September 30, 2013.
Google PageSpeed Insights – It is a Google online tool that is used to analyze and assess the loading speed of a web page, as well as the user experience of its visitors. To do this, it takes into account not only the speed of the site but also the compliance or not with a series of good practices in terms of web performance.
Google Doodles – Service that allows access to virtual art designs through which Google honors historical milestones and dates, these artistic samples are known as “doodles” and decorate the letters of the search engine logo, allowing you to access a description of the commemoration, but not accessing specific information necessary for developers.
Google Camera – Service that provides information and allows the download of the Google mobile application for cameras, which provides a group of facilities to users when taking photos and editing them.
Google Store – online hardware retailer operated by Google. It offers devices such as Chromecasts, Chromebooks, smart watches, etc., all manufactured by Google or through the collaboration of the company. Each of the devices offered has a site for consulting its specifications and its acquisition, the most relevant are: Google Chrome Cast , Google Home, Google Wifi.
Google for Education – Suite of Google applications for education, designed for teachers and students. Provides simple tools that students will use at any point in the educational process, and provides independently customizable versions of various Google products using a customer-supplied domain name.
Google Classroom – Free educational blended learning platform launched by Google in August 2014, it is part of the Google Applications Suite for Education.
Google Activate -The Activate service, mainly aimed at the business sector, allows through innovative training techniques and free of charge, the creation of professional skills. This company initiative aims to offer training to people who need to enter the world of work. Through Google’s free training programs and courses, it is possible to learn digital skills, techniques and resources
Google AdMob – Service developed by Google, aimed at the intelligent monetization of websites and applications. The name AdMob is an acronym for “advertising on mobile devices.”
Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) is a service and a program of the Google company that is used to offer sponsored advertising to potential advertisers. Google Ads is Google’s main source of revenue and is a payment method for dynamic advertising for the customer. This means that the user will pay or charge for the traffic generated in one direction or another. Advertisers, with the concept of pay per click, will only pay for those clicked ads. the website owners charge based on the number of clicks that the ads on their website have generated.
Google Cloud Platform – is a cloud technology platform that brings together all the web development applications that Google offered separately.
Google Domains – is a domain registrar, through which you can check available domains and acquire, by registering, a domain for our sites or web portals.
Google Business – provides the necessary tools to increase the visibility of business or company websites in local search results. In other words, it manages the information that Google users see when they search for a company or the products and services it offers. Businesses that verify their data with Google My Business are twice as likely to be trusted by consumers.
Google For Jobs – facilitates access to job offers from different platforms and allows you to set filters on places or types of jobs that the user demands. The new function allows that, once the user has carried out a search for a job, the existing offers are displayed in employment agencies, temporary work agencies, aggregators and other entities, among which are those that are already available. have joined the search engine, such as Linkedin, Adecco, Opcionempleo, Hosteleo, Asempleo, Jobatus, Hostelo or Buscadordetrabajo.com among others. The advantages are that it unifies all the portals in a single search and favors a greater dissemination of job offers.
Google Data Studio – Google dashboard creation and data visualization tool. The objective of the tool is to allow an analysis of the data in a visual way so that it is easier and more immediate to obtain results.
Android SDK – Android Program Development is usually done with the Java2-like programming language and the SDK development toolkit, but other options are available. The Android platform has grown to be one of the most preferred by developers for mobile platforms. The Android SDK includes a set of development tools. It comprises a code debugger, library, a QEMU-based phone simulator, documentation, code samples, and tutorials
Oracle Corporation – American company founded in 1982 (from its development started in 1977 when it had several different names). It owns the general-purpose, concurrent, and object-oriented Java programming language designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. Allow the program to be written once and run on any device. It is one of the most popular programming languages in use.
Norton Antivirus – is one of the most used antivirus programs on personal computers. Although it is available as a standalone program, it is also often sold included in the Norton 360 and Norton Internet Security packages.
XFORCE from IBM – IBM X-Force Exchange is an open cloud-based platform. It allows knowing, acting and sharing threat intelligence, as well as rapid research on the latest global security threats.
Vmware – A subsidiary of EMC Corporation, a US company, founded in 1998 that provides virtualization software, some free, for Windows, Linux and MAC OS X.
Cisco Webex – an American company based in California that offers on-demand collaboration, online meetings, web conferencing, and video conferencing applications. Its products include Meeting Center, Training Center, Event Center, Support Center, Sales Center, MeetMeNow, PCNow, WebEx AIM Business Edition, WebEx WebOffice, and WebEx Connect.
Globalspec Inc. – Technology services company in the United States founded in 1996, owner of a search engine for engineering and industrial products, indexing more than 180 million parts divided into 2,300,000 product families, from more than 24,000 manufacturers and distributors catalogs.
Nvidia Corporation – An American global technology company that manufactures semiconductors, graphics processing units and systems on tablets (chips) for the mobile computing market, it was founded in 1993.
Versions – Mac Subversion Client (SVN) (com) Site for Mac applications based on the popular Subversion version control system. In recent monitoring it has been possible to verify that the Versions website is not enabled, since when entering the url a page with an error code is displayed. In the same way, when entering the name of the site in the Google search engine, no page corresponding to Versions is recovered, although it is possible to download the application from other websites such as MacUpdate.
Symantec Corporation – International Corporation founded in 1982 in the United States. Develops and markets computer software, particularly in the domain of computer security. Headquartered in California and operating in more than 40 countries. Since November 2019, this company was acquired by the manufacturer of integrated circuits, Broadcom, therefore when trying to access the Synmatec Corporation website, it is redirected to the Broadcom company website.
Global Connect – American communications services company founded in 2002. It uses VoIP technology to help its customers reach their contacts quickly, easily and profitably. It has a reputation as the leading provider of hosted dialing and communication services.
NetBeans – Software managed by Oracle Corporation, created in 2000 as a free integrated development environment, made mainly for the Java programming language, is a free and open source product that is not accessible from Cuba. There is also a significant number of modules to extend it. NetBeans IDE is a free and free product with no use restrictions.
Adobe Systems Inc. – Private American software company based in San José (California, USA) founded in December 1982. Produces professional-level applications for photo retouching (Photoshop), vector drawing (Illustrator), layout (InDesign), editing video and audio (After Effects, Premiere Pro, Audition, Soundbooth), digital documents (Acrobat), web and multimedia content (Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash), among others.
Macromedia Company – modified – United States company dedicated to the development of software for graphics and web development, created in 1992 and purchased by Adobe Systems in 2005.
Texas Instruments – American company founded in 1951, based in Dallas. Develops and markets semiconductors and computer technology. TI is the world’s third largest semiconductor manufacturer after Intel and Samsung. It is the largest supplier of integrated circuits for mobile telephony. It is the largest producer of digital signal processors and analog semiconductors.
Advanced Micro Devices, AMD – American semiconductor company established in California. Develops computer processors and related technology products for the consumer market.
EMC – Manufacturer of software and systems for management and information storage based in Massachusetts, USA. Develops storage products for the enterprise segment, including hardware for RAID and software to manage data storage. On October 12, 2015 it was acquired by Dell inc for 67,000 million dollars.
AT&T, Inc. (att.com) is an American telecommunications company founded in 1893 with headquarters in Dallas, Texas. It is a provider of voice, video, data and internet services to businesses, clients and government agencies. It has been at times the largest company in the world and the largest cable television operator in the United States.
Microchip (microchip.com) Microchip Technology Inc. is an American company dedicated to the manufacture of analog microcontrollers, memories and semiconductors.
Dell Inc. – Private American multinational company that develops, sells, repairs and supports computers, products and services related to them. It is considered the third largest computer manufacturer in the world.
Zoom Video Communications – is a company that operates from California, and that provides remote conferencing services using cloud computing. Zoom offers communications software that combines video conferencing, online meetings, and mobile collaboration. Zoom targets software parity and support across three PC platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux).
Analog Devices – American multinational producer of semiconductor devices founded in 1965. Currently designs devices in the range of 0.055-3 micrometers.
Alexa Internet, Inc. – It is a subsidiary of the California-based company Amazon.com that provides business web traffic data and analytics. Its toolbar, the Alexa Toolbar, collects data on surfing behavior and transmits it to the Alexa website, where it is stored and analyzed. According to its website, Alexa provides traffic data, global rankings, and other information on 30 million websites. As of 2015, its website has been visited by more than 6.5 million people per month.
Snapchat – Snapchat is a mobile application dedicated to sending files, which “disappear” from the recipient’s device between one and ten seconds after they have been viewed. It was developed by Artur Celeste, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown, students at Stanford University, in the United States, in 2010.
Identified US e-commerce sites that are totally or partially blocked for Cuba:
Stripe (www.stripe.com) – American technology company with operations in more than 25 countries. It allows payment transactions over the Internet. It also focuses on providing anti-fraud systems and the necessary banking infrastructure for online payments.
Ebay (www.ebay.com) American company based in California dedicated to the auction of all kinds of products through its website. Owner of the company and electronic payment platform Paypal.
Paypal TM (https://www.paypal.com) A US company founded in 1998 that allows payment on websites and transfer money between users who have email, also processes payment requests in electronic commerce.
BlueSnap (http://home.bluesnap.com/ecommerce) Multinational smart payment gateway with support in 180 countries, with 110 types of payments, 60 types of currencies and in 29 languages.
Digi-Key Electronics -American company founded in 1972, currently ranks as the fourth largest distributor of electronic components in the United States.
TigerDirect – United States company founded in 1987, based on sales of computers by catalog via web.
Costco – founded in 1983, headquartered in Washington, USA It is the largest “Price Club” chain in the world based on wholesale sales, it is also the second largest retail chain in the world, only surpassed by WalMart.
Macy´s department store in the United States, founded in 1858. It has its main store in Herald Square, New York. It has been listed since 1924 as the world’s largest store in retail space.
Dillard´s is an American chain of department stores founded in 1938, based in Little Rock, Arkansas. It has more than 330 stores in 28 states.
Best buy (www.bestbuy.com) is an American company specializing in electronic product sales. It operates about 1,150 stores in the United States, Canada, China, Mexico and Turkey. Named in 2004 by Forbes magazine as the “Company of the Year.”
Target Corporation is an American chain of department stores, considered the sixth largest retail company in the United States.