WORLD

Getting online in one of the world's most isolated countries

Decrease Increase Text size

For many Cubans, getting online has been an impossibility.

The government tightly controls information in the island country, making it one of the least wired countries in the western hemisphere.

But that all changed in June, when the government opened 119 centers where Cubans could finally surf the internet.

"For a while now I have been trying to find a way to get online which wasn't that easy to do," says internet user Arian Bacallao. "Now that the government's done this it's a convenient way to find information."

Convenient, but at $4.50 an hour, it's not cheap for most Cubans, most of whom make less than $20 per month.

"You have to get the money together, it's not easy," says Lisbet Rodriguez. Rodriguez stays in touch with friends abroad via Facebook, a luxury she can only afford twice per month.

MONEY ISN'T THE ONLY BARRIER

While more sites are now available than in the past like those from Cuban government critics, other sites, particularly those in the US that criticize the government, are still blocked.

"Obviously our government promotes certain behaviors regarding ethical and moral behaviors," says government spokesperson Tania Velasquez. "Certain sites that promote violence and immoral behaviors aren't permitted."

Experts say the decision to allow access, no matter how limited, is a sign Cuban officials are slowing realizing that lack of internet access is holding their citizens back.

"I think it's significant in a kind of cat and mouse game between the government and the people of Cuba who regardless of their political ideology really want to be connected to the 21st century and that means the internet, access to the internet," says Cuba social media expert Ted Henken.

Experts say usage will surge once the government lowers the cost of going online. The Cuban government says it is studying the possibility.

Recommended For You