Cuba Culture

Cuba complains that Google is blocking them

Posted September 30, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Culture.

By Amaury E. del Valle |

Does Google Censor Cuba?

A number of services offered by the grand search engine are not available to Cubans, and with no explanation given. Federal prohibitions enabling the US blockade of the island could be the key to the mystery.The largest and most-used search engine on the Internet is marking its tenth anniversary. Over that that time it has censored a series of services, making them inaccessible in Cuba – and with no clear explanation why.

«We’re sorry, but this service is not available for your country» is the brief message that appears in English on the computer screen when anyone on the island tries to access one of the mega-searcher’s well-known utilities, such as Google Earth, Google Desktop Search, Google Code or Google Toolbar.

The website —famous the world over for providing a simple and quick way to find information on close to 8.2 billion web pages— is consulted more than 200 million times a day. In addition, it offers its users other facilities, like searching for free or open source code, finding maps and aerial photos, locating on-line ads or finding information lost on one’s own computer. However, these options are not available in Cuba.


Member Comments

On September 30, 2007, publisher wrote:

Either Google is prohibited from taking money from Cuba and/or since Cuba is on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, Google may be obligated by law to forbid access to certain Google features from IP addresses in Cuba.

On October 01, 2007, cubanpete wrote:

When Cuba enables unrestricted internet access to its citizens, then it can complain about Google.

On October 01, 2007, Cuban Dan wrote:

I couldn’t agree more cubanpete.  How is Cuba going to argue about an issue like that when they don’t even allow internet access to the majority of there population?

On October 02, 2007, Yeyo wrote:

I completely disagree with the posted earlier.
I’m almost sure that the Cuban government does not care about the services offered by Google. In fact they are very unhappy with Google Earth showing the location of Castro’s house or his executive airport with his planes.
The problem is that the average Cubans that have to live trying to circumvent the censorships imposed by their government, having to pay for internet accounts on the black market (because they are only available to high Cuban government representatives and foreigners), in some cases paying up to USD 100.00 a month for a black market dial up account, now also have to deal with the inefficiencies of Google.
At the same time I strongly condemn the censorship and prosecution of the internet by the Cuban Government. That’s another method they have to keep the Cubans alienated of the world news so they can not realize how badly oppressed they are.
I recall a lot of international noise when Google was censoring the content in China. This is a similar case and Google have always portrait themselves as the liberators of the internet.
Internet companies have to make their content available to all users worldwide independently of where they live and that would help the information to flow freely, eventually helping to spread the desire for democracy.

On October 04, 2007, manfredz wrote:

Not sure that it’s still that hard for Cubans to access internet as described above. In varadero there were as many Cubans in the internet cafes as tourists - but tehn I thought Varadero is always a bit different anyway…
However when I was in Santa Clara at teh main ETECSA office, then had about 6 or 7 public internet machines.  I used the whole hour of my internet card there and noticed Cubans (mostly young people) going to the kiosk and openly buying internet access cards.  In Varadero they sometimes recorded my name, hotel etc on a record sheet - saw no such thing in Santa Clara.

Mind you I’m not suggesting anybody can internet anytime they want to, but its not as restricted as I sometimes hear either (however keep in mind that a 1 hr card cost 6 CUC so only people who have convertible pesos can take this route)

On October 05, 2007, Yeyo wrote:

In regard to Manfredz response I would only ask: how much is the average salary in Cuba. Keep in mind that a leading Neurosurgeon makes around 40 USD a month.
The only internet access that are available are the ones you mention above like internet Cafes and Etecsa boots at extremely expensive rates (for Cuban standards).
Average Cubans do not have access to internet on their homes except very few that purchase that access on the black market (were prices are currently betten USD 50 and USD 100.00 a month for dial-up internet) and if you are catch using it they may put you in jain but firstly they would take your computer and any related equipment you may have. NO RESTRICTIONS???
I really can not understand when you say that is NOT RESTRICTED when nobody (unless foreigners or high goverment officials) can have internet on their homes and prices on the internet Cafes and Etecsa boots are not accessible to Cubans.

On October 05, 2007, manfredz wrote:

i didnt say there were no restrictions.
“but its not as restricted as I sometimes hear either “
and again, as i said, in both Varadero and Santa Clara I found most of the people using the machines in the internet cafes.
Although I think we may be splitting hairs over numbers.
Lets agree, if we can, that home intnernet is not possible for almost anyone who does not have good connections; and internet cafe use is only to a small percentage of Cubans who have access to CUC by working in the tourist industry or having relatives outside Cuba.

Can we agree on that?