/// Getting Online in Cuba Remains a Risky Endeavor for Most

May 28, 2011  |  All Things Digital

A recent article in the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde described the “cyber-warfare”being used by the United States to subvert Cuba. A stylishly-dressed man in his late 20s hawked pirated DVDs and computer games from the doorway of his apartment in the alleyways of Old Havana. He is licensed and fully sanctioned by the Cuban government to do so, he told me, adding that if I wanted a TV show or movie that he didn’t have, he could almost definitely find it for me. Illegally copied media is not an officially recognized issue in this country. Internet access is another story. When I asked the DVD seller about his Internet-related behavior and practices, he quickly hushed me up and insisted we move to the other side of the road to speak. “Internet? Things here are bad,” he said quietly. “They’re really bad.” When I inquired about his use of the Web, he shut up completely and walked back to his booth. This is a typical story in Cuba, where only a tiny fraction of Cubans have legally-sanctioned Internet access and many more use a variety of clandestine methods to log on and connect with the rest of the world. As of 2010, Internet penetration in Latin America and the Caribbean stands at 34.5 percent, based on data from Nielsen and the International Telecommunication Union. But a recent survey done by Cuba’s National Statistics Office says that only 2.9 percent of Cubans have direct access to the Internet–a number that includes state and academic officials. Even for them, it’s mostly at work where they can use the connection, because it can be monitored.

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Getting Online in Cuba Remains a Risky Endeavor for Most


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