The internet does not really exist in Cuba. (Hey, Raul Castro!) It’s partially a side effect of the government trying to limit access to a world of information, earning Cuba the title of “one of the most restrictive media environments in the world,” as reported by NPR. Those restrictions, combined with a lack of infrastructure and the means to purchase state-of-the-art electronics, translates to very few Cubans (fewer than 5% by some estimates) having access to the open internet. The internet that does exist is usually limited to tourist areas and bigger hotels, and is expensive. In my personal experience, it’s also generally more sluggish than the dialup modem you used to access eWorld on your clamshell Mac.
While travelers to Cuba may appreciate the chance for a de facto digital detox, the people who live and work in Cuba have to exist without access in an increasingly digital world. Now Google is looking to make accessing the internet a little easier for those Cubans who do have it. The company just launched its own servers in the country. In a blog post, Google noted that Cubans “who already have access to the internet and want to use our services can expect to see an improvement in terms of quality of service,” because content can now be cached locally. That applies not only to Google, but to Google-owned sites like YouTube. That means Cubans can now access pro-American videos like this.