Net Effect

Cable sovereignty doesn’t come cheap

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the planned 1,500km Internet link between La Guaira, Vargas state, in northern Venezuela to Siboney in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba that is slated to open in 2010 or so (curiously, the work on installing it has not even begun in earnest). So when by ...

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the planned 1,500km Internet link between La Guaira, Vargas state, in northern Venezuela to Siboney in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba that is slated to open in 2010 or so (curiously, the work on installing it has not even begun in earnest).

So when by the Miami-based TeleCuba Communications recently announced that they got the permission (from the US Treasury) to install the 110-mile fiber-optic cable between Key West and Havana came as somewhat of a surprise: while they could probably do it cheaper than Hugo Chavez, it was not clear how the Cuban authorities would react to such a gesture of cyber-solidarity.

Well, now we know: they do not like and consider it a threat to their…sovereignty, no less: 

Francisco Hartmann, director of strategy for Cuba’s national Office of Information, said his government has "no official knowledge that there is interest to negotiate" such a project, and he indicated they may frown on it if asked.

"If all the information that we have passes by cable to Florida, that technological independence, the sovereignty that for us is so important, what will happen to it?" he asked at a news conference.

BusinessWeek has more on this. I think it’s an important question to ask, especially in our age of regular cyber-attacks, cable cuts, and Internet surveillance. Cuba faces a tough dilemma: they do want cheap, fast, and reliable (and, of course, easy to control) Internet access, but they don’t want to get it from the most obvious source – the US – for the reasons of national security (and I think it’s hard to blame them).

The question is: will Hugo Chavez pick up the bill for a cable that would be 10x longer and surely much more expensive, only to assure Cubans that CIA won’t be spying on them? 

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