Unleash the Googles on Cuba
U.S.-Cuba dynamics continue to follow the traditional script of mixed signals. The romance is there; the trust is not.
Shortly after U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bisa Williams returned from extended talks in
Another kicker came on Thursday when the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, told reporters that immigration talks in
Part of the Cuban agenda presented to the government of the United States is a proposal for a new immigration agreement and solidifying cooperation in the fight against people trafficking,” Rodríguez is translated as saying in English by Reuters. Let’s hope that
The imprisonment of Mr. Gross (or “Harold,” as he was first named to me in early December) serves as a good reminder of the criminals-in-office we are dealing with in
Why didn’t we complain louder about Gross’ continued detention? For one, the man and his family did not sign a privacy waiver with the State Department, and without that waiver the U.S. Department of State and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad cannot release information on an individual—even when it hurts our national interests.
In this context, the calls in and out of government for overhauling our policies have only gotten louder.
Senator Russ Feingold (WI) this week proposed axing Radio/TV Marti, which has been around for more than a decade.
Why fund programs, such as the one that Alan Gross worked for, when we do not see clearly positive results? They just make us feel good that we’re trying to fix how horrible it is in
Are these our only tools to affect change in
“Insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” as Albert Einstein once said.
The timing couldn’t seem better for a total rethink—a re-examination of our paradigm on
The bottom line is that, to date, the Cubans are defining the terms of how we talk. We can turn the policy paradigm to what works for our own interests.
At the DC watercooler the pop talk is still “end the trade embargo” and “allow travel for all
Jake Colvin, Vice President of Global Trade Issues at the National Foreign Trade Council, says “removing sanctions and travel restrictions on
Colvin is on the money with the removal of trade sanctions. But we can’t do it overnight. Further loosening on
With Google vs.
“Google is already causing the Chinese government to liberalize their censorship policy, allowing more access to ‘controversial’ information to Chinese people,” says Dan Abrams, president of MassLight Inc, which consults for the Defense Department among others.
With the rising prominence and expansion of the Cuban blogosphere,
Granted, there are many more barricades to the Internet, computers and software in
“Ending the ban on travel by U.S. citizens—or better yet, removing all trade and travel restrictions—would be much more effective than tinkering with U.S. telecom sanctions. There's something to be said for the low-tech approach,” Colvin points out.
His points are solid. What has resulted from Obama’s move to lift restrictions on
I’m not saying that dropping trade sanctions on telecommunications and technology firms will topple the regime, or that Cubans can order millions of iPads. They cannot afford them.
And, even if they did, it would be equivalent to giving someone a car with no gas. For now. The technology sector moves faster than any government can keep up with. And this could be one way to nurture the capitalist spirit in
“Some entrepreneurial company will figure out a way to make some small inroads into imports or exports, then another, and newer technologies will be introduced. It’s not an overnight prescription but it will have a significant impact over time,” says Abrams.
If our goal is to improve unadulterated access to information in Cuba as a way to promote political freedoms, why does the U.S. government believe it can do it by paying its own staffers—or subcontractors, like Alan Gross—to do it? Note: Cubans do not trust the
We’re fooling ourselves to think the
*Liz Harper is an americasquarterly.org contributing blogger based in
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