Toward a US Cuban Networking Policy

Larry Press


US Policy toward Cuba seeks economic, political, and human rights reform. Our principle strategy has been economic embargo, but the power of communication is also recognized in the Cuban Democracy Act and other legislation and policy. This paper focuses on a subset of US telecommunication policy -- computer networking. We begin with a discussion of resources needed for the success of Cuban networks. This is followed by several specific recommendations for strengthening Cuban networking, and the final section speculates on the effect of improved communication and networking on various US policy goals. Our general conclusion is that in spite of some costs and conflicting goals, improved Cuban networks would be good for both Cuba and the US, and US policy should facilitate that end. This paper is based on a longer report "Cuban Telecommunication, Networking, and Policy Recommendations," in press, RAND Corp.

US Cuban policy is determined by complex political, economic, and humanitarian considerations. The economic embargo has long been the centerpiece of our Cuban policy and strategy, but information and communications issues and measures have never been ignored. From the start of the embargo, AT&T was permitted to continue telephone connectivity at roughly pre-embargo levels. The power of information was also recognized in the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act of 1983, which established Radio Marti. More recently, the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 reaffirms the embargo, but also calls for improved telecommunications and information exchange in order to increase the potential for change in Cuba. Studies including [7, 8, 11, and 14] have suggested the need for US telecommunication policy vis Cuba

This paper focuses on a subset of US telecommunication policy -- computer networking. In 1992, Cuba had a few, small UUCP-based networks with one sporadic international link to Canada [21]. Today there are four networks with international UUCP links, making at least 10 transfers per day, and serving over 3,000 users (see Table 1). Recent traffic on 3 of the international links is shown in Table 2. (See [27] for a description of Cuban networks).

Cuban networks have grown in spite of very difficult economic conditions. While the US embargo has impeded Cuban trade and investment for many years, the Soviet collapse has been disastrous. Cuba lost $4-5 billion in aid and subsidies; foreign trade is around 25% of the 1989 level, and GDP about 50%. The stringent demands of this "special period" have caused massive unemployment and hardship, and the success of the Cuban networks in the face of economic adversity is attributable to the skill of networking people and organizations and the utility of the networks.

In considering US networking policy, we will begin with a discussion of resources needed for the success of Cuban networks. This is followed by several specific recommendations for strengthening Cuban networking, and the final section speculates on the effect of improved communication and networking on various US policy goals. Our general conclusion is that in spite of some costs and conflicting goals, improved Cuban networks would be good for both Cuba and the US, and US policy should facilitate that end.

1. Resources for Networking

If we are to facilitate Cuban networking, we must consider the resources necessary to support a network, and ask which are constrained. These resources include intranational communication infrastructure, international links, network technicians, hardware, and software, government support, cooperation among networkers, and trained, demanding users with adequate hardware and software [25].

1.1 Intranational Telecommunication Infrastructure

As shown in Table 3, Cuba has fewer main telephone lines as a proportion of population and GDP than any Caribbean nation but Haiti, and is closer to the low-income nations of the world than the lower- middle group in which it falls. Armando Coro, telecommunication expert and University of Havana professor, states that "The US embargo has had a devastating effect on Cuba's telecommunications" [29]. Haines [13] estimates that 40% of the Cuban telephone system was installed in the 1930s and 1940s. Professor Coro confirms this, pointing out that Cuban equipment comes from France, the US, Canada, Scandinavia, East Germany, and Hungary [29]. This equipment mix, the embargo, and a lack of hard currency and parts after the Soviet dissolution, make interoperability and maintenance very difficult.

The Cuban telephone system limits intercity connectivity to UUCP over slow modems or X.25, and most IP experiments are within buildings.{footnote 1} An IP network would require more modern facilities, particularly outside Havana.

1.2 International Links

The international situation is better. While AT&T was allowed to continue serving Cuba after the embargo, service was limited. Calls from the US were routed through an operator, and the FCC estimated that less than 1% of the 60 million annual call attempts were completed [5]. Cuban pressure, and the rapid growth of Canadian companies providing call-back service in the US, led to the State Department issuing guidelines calling for increased service in compliance with the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act [3]. Today we have direct dialing to Cuba and 953 authorized voice-grade (64kbps) circuits, with 504 in use (Table 4). WilTel has applied for permission to construct a 2.5 gigabit fiber optic cable which would have roughly 41 times today's combined authorized capacity. While not announced at this time, several carriers are seeking tariffs for leased circuits between the US and Cuba.

1.3 Network Technicians

While trained technicians are in demand everywhere, Cuba is strong compared to many developing nations. Cuba has a long standing social commitment to science and education, and has produced people capable of handling the technical requirements of networks. (The situation is reminiscent of Russia). Cuban technicians have had networking experience since 1982, attended international workshops of ISOC and other organizations, and have begun offering their own training internationally {footnote 2}.

1.4 Network Hardware

Networks in Cuba and other developing nations rely heavily on Intel- based PCs. Cuba is generally making due with 8086, 286, 386 and 486- based PCs. Though they are considered obsolete in the US, meaningful UUCP networks can be built using these machines. As they move to IP networks, there will be demand for larger, file and application servers running Unix or Windows NT. Networking hardware like routers will also be needed, but properly programmed, fast PCs will also be able to fulfill much of this demand until traffic volumes rise.

1.5 Network Software

The network software in use in Cuba today is generally in the public domain, though it requires much maintenance and modification. Cuba has demonstrated competence in this area by developing database, server, and communication software. IP networks will require new software, much of which is also available at no cost, but a software investment will be needed. {footnote 3}

6 Government Support

In a totalitarian state, government support is necessary to obtain permission and hard currency to build a network. In 1992, at the headquarters of the Youth Computer Clubs there were photos of Fidel Castro at the opening ceremony, and a framed, handwritten note on the wall saying "I envy you, Fidel." I was told Castro had personally allocated $500,000 to the YCCs that year [23]. Since Cuban networks have been allowed to grow, it appears that, for now, there is political support or at least acquiescence.

1.7 Cooperation among Networkers

Developing nations often have several centers of networking excellence, and Cuba is no exception. With limited national resources, cooperation between them may be beneficial -- for example, in the sharing of international circuits. At the same time, if users have alternatives, healthy competition can lead to improved service.

1.8 User Hardware

The network requires hardware, but so do the users. Users can get by with less powerful PCs, but many more are needed. In developed nations, users typically have their own computers; however, in Cuba and other developing nations, many people may share one computer. Still, even shared, "obsolete" computers are a constraint in a capital-starved Cuba.

1.9 User Software

Users require both communication and application software. Communication software is generally in the public domain, and supplied by the network operator. Even with a move to IP networking, much client software will remain free of cost (though not of support).

1.10 Trained, Demanding Users

This is the toughest nut to crack. It requires time and culture change. The US leads the world in this dimension, but it has taken 15 years {footnote 4}. US children and workers commonly use computers for games, word processing and other applications. As such, they have acquired a mental model of a computer, and are accustomed to using it. It is a small conceptual step to using electronic mail, and then other network applications. By contrast, Cuba has essentially no user community and culture, so training and support are necessary for all new users. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that less powerful hardware often requires software which is difficult to use and understand [24] (although software development such as that at CIGBnet helps in this regard). While there is much to be done, a strong education system and support for the YCCs, put Cuba in a better position than most developing nations. Again, the situation is reminiscent of Russia.

2. Recommendations

This section recommends several actions aimed at facilitating Cuban networking by easing the constraints mentioned above.

2.1 Encourage IP Internet Connectivity

Cuba has UUCP links to Canada and England today, but an IP link would allow Cubans to run interactive applications and would allow those outside of Cuba access to Cuban resources. IP connectivity requires a leased international link, and networking hardware, and competent networking centers. The capability of providing the leased link is already in place. Networking hardware and software would also be needed. CENIAI or CIGBnet would be viable connection organizations within Cuba today, and InfoMed plans a significant upgrade; however, CENIAI seems to be the organization designated by the Cubans.

The US could subsidize Cuban IP connectivity directly or through foundations, NGOs, organizations like ISOC, etc. The cost would be very small compared to Radio and TV Marti (probably $24.8 million in 1996), and would surely have a greater impact than the latter.

2.2 Permit Direct US Investment in Cuban Infrastructure

The primary hope for improvement of the Cuban telephone infrastructure is a joint venture with Grupo Domos Internacional of Mexico, forming the Telecommunication Enterprise of Cuba (ETECSA). In June, 1994 Domos agreed to purchase a 49% interest in the Cuban phone system for a reported $1.5 billion [2], and they subsequently sold 25% of their share to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Italian State Telecommunication Company for $291.2 million. Dolan [4] states that Domos is seeking further equity investment, in order to reduce their share of ETECSA to 25%. While Domos has promised a significant upgrade of the Cuban infrastructure, there is little evidence of progress to date.

It is arguable that direct investment in Cuban telecommunication infrastructure by US companies is allowed under the terms of the Cuban Democracy Act, since that is where the major communication bottleneck is, and communication is to be encouraged. This investment could take the form of equity investment in ETECSA, bidding on ETECSA contracts, and providing networking networking equipment like routers.

At the very least, we should allow direct investment in the equipment needed to support the services we offer. For example, Alan Garatt, an MCI spokesman, reported in an August, 1995 interview that problems with Cuban infrastructure caused difficulty and a four month delay in establishing their current service.

2.3 Reduce Administrative Bottlenecks

The administration acts slowly on Cuban matters. For example, the WilTel application for permission to construct an optical cable between the US and Cuba has been pending since March, 1994. This and other communication-related applications, for example applications to provide various data-related services, should be processed rapidly.

Travel from Cuba for training and network management should also be facilitated. For example, two of three Cuban visa applications to attend the ISOC Developing Nations Workshop in Hawaii were denied last year. This cost Cuban training, and perhaps more important, integration into the networking community. Feinsilver [6] also reports that the US government has denied visas to Cuban biotechnology scientists on a number of occasions. There is some risk that Cubans attending such meetings would defect; however, that would serve US interest, since they are well educated and have valuable skills.

2.4 Utilize the Internet

There is a good deal of Cuba-related information and discussion of Cuban culture, tourism, politics, and history, on the Internet. There are mailing lists, a Usenet News group, Gopher, and WWW servers operated by academic programs at universities, Radio Marti, interested individuals, and political organizations. If Cuba had IP connectivity, this information would be available to Cubans at their discretion.

The Internet could be a venue for the publication of balanced, relevant information. For example, the Radio Marti staff could post their background studies. These are a reasoned source of objective information which could be polished for publication at very low marginal cost.

2.5 Avoid Blatant Propaganda

Cuban exiles have at times broadcast unsolicited, political email to Cuban mailing lists. Such activity puts Cuban networks at risk, since the Cuban government will shut them down if they feel the threat is greater than the benefits. For corroboration of this concern, we need only consider the jamming of Radio and TV Marti. Furthermore, the people receiving these messages are not naive, and are often resentful of the US Cuban exile community. As such, they will not be swayed by strident propaganda.

2.6 Avoid Legislative Restriction

The Helms-Burton Bill would, if passed, have a chilling effect on investment in communication infrastructure in general and therefor in networking. While there are many non-communication factors affecting this bill, at the very least, there should be modifications to exclude communication in the manner of the Cuban Democracy Act.

2.7 Support Cuban Users

Networks in developing nations typically begin in the university and research communities, with early support to government agencies and NGOs [10]. Cuba has followed this pattern, and at least four user communities, NGOs, Youth Computer Clubs, universities, and medical and biotechnology workers, are worthy of support. The NGOs and biotechnology and medical communities play a role in support of human- rights and knowledge-access policy goals discussed below. The Youth Computer Clubs and universities provide user training, and the universities train networking technicians and trainers of users.

The US could help user organizations with training, equipment, and communication costs. Since direct subsidy runs the risk of increasing the visibility of recipient organizations, indirect subsidy might be preferable. This could be channeled through a variety of international organizations, foundations and professional societies. Support from private companies, particularly those in networking and computing business, could also be encouraged and facilitated. It should be stressed that small investments can make a significant difference since Cuban networks operate on a shoestring.

3. Implications for US Goals

The Cuban Democracy Act sets forth a number of goals for US-Cuban policy. This section delineates these and several other goals, and discusses the impact of improved communication and networking on each.

3.1 Free and Fair Elections

The Cuban Democracy Act calls for "free and fair elections" in which all candidates are permitted "full access to the media."

While the Cuban government currently shows no inclination to hold free elections, they will occur at some time, and at that time, an improved communication infrastructure would be an asset for all political parties. In general, one would expect networks to encourage democracy by providing Cubans with outside information and ideas, and by enabling them to share ideas and coordinate activity, much as the Internet was used for inter and intranational communication during the failed Soviet Coup attempt [22]. The Internet also carried news and discussion of events in Tian An Men Square, Chiapas, etc.

Going beyond anecdote, Kedzie [15, 16] presents multivariate analysis showing that interconnectivity is a better predictor of democracy than schooling, GDP, life expectancy, ethnic homogeneity, or population, particularly in regions of newly emerging democracy. One could speculate that democracy causes interconnectivity or they are spuriously correlated with a third variable like development, but Kedzie's analysis does not support these suggestions. Kedzie suggests that networking policy can encourage democracy:

To the extent that we as a nation aim to influence the development of democracy world wide, we do so through programs to enhance economic development, education, health, legal reform, etc. The causal connection supporting these programs is no stronger, and in some instances quite a bit weaker, than can be inferred in the case of network communication technology. [16]

3.2 Increased Civil Liberties and Human Rights

The Cuban Democracy Act calls for the Cuban government to show "respect for the basic civil liberties and human rights {footnote 5} of the citizens of Cuba," and authorizes the US Government to "provide assistance, through appropriate NGOs, for the support of individuals and organizations to promote nonviolent democratic change in Cuba." At least 31 NGOs have accounts on Cuban networks (see Table 5). Gillian Gunn has conducted a study of the Cuban NGOs [12], and states that Cuban Ministry of Justice "reports explosive growth in their number from 1989 to 1993, and a leveling off in 1994." Gunn states that "Approximately 2,200 NGOs are now registered with the government and many others exist underground." She surveys the NGOs and their relation to the Government, and concludes:

Are Cuba's NGOs government puppets or seeds of civil society? The answer is ideologically and intellectually unsatisfying. They are both, though the latter characteristic is very gradually growing.

In a September, 1995 interview, Gunn stated that since the Spring of 1993, there have been Cuban government memos stating there are too many NGOs, and calling for increased audit and control by the ministry which oversees them.

She feels email is a lifeline for the NGOs since fax and telephone are unreliable and expensive. For instance, the Georgetown University Cuba Project, which she directs, is organizing an environmental conference with two Cuban NGOs, which would have been impossible without email. I had the same experience as chairman of the The 1994 Conference on The Impact of Informatics on Developing Countries, of the International Federation of Information Processing Societies in Havana, which would have been impossible without the network, as would be the report you are now reading.

While these examples involve communication between Cuba and the rest of the world, the network also plays a role in fostering open communication within a nation. An interesting example is provided by the use of Relcom, a then-Soviet network during the coup attempt [22]. Relcom functioned without interruption throughout the coup attempt, providing reports on the status of troops, protest, strikes, and so forth in various Soviet cities. (There was also considerable two way exchange with other nations, and an archive of this traffic is available to scholars at

3.3 Move toward a Free Market Economy

The Cuban Democracy Act calls for movement toward "establishing a free market economic system," and there has been some movement in this direction, including dollar legalization, limited markets, and, most recently, a liberalization of investment laws.

In a communication-poor nation, a computer network can make a meaningful contribution to a market economy. Again, the Relcom Network which carried commercial traffic from its inception, provides an example of this role. A market economy also requires private capital, and a robust communication system is an asset in the eyes of a potential investor.

3.4 Maintain the Achievements of the Revolution and Improve Cuban Living Standards

While this is not an explicit goal of US policy, it is consistent with the humanitarian ends our policy seeks to achieve. Cubans point with justified pride to significant gains in racial equality, health care, education and science, and improved life in rural communities, as achievements of the Castro regime. As Table 6 shows, Cuban basic indicators are comparable to successful South and Central American nations Chile and Costa Rica. One can argue that historical conditions and policies of pre-Castro Cuba are responsible for some of Cuba's success, or that there were alternative means of reaching the same end, but there have been major accomplishments which should be preserved and extended.

To the extent that improved telecommunications will help the Cuban economy recover from its current crisis, it will help provide the stability and surplus necessary to continue social programs. Additionally, improved telecommunications can bring some of the economic, educational, and cultural advantages historically enjoyed in cities to the country side.

Many in the US argue that cutting Cuban living standards destabilizes the government, and will lead to change; however, this is achieved at great humanitarian cost. It also increases the danger of a violent revolution, with attendant loss of life, economic ruin, refugees, and political-economic responsibility for the US [8]. For pragmatic and humanitarian reasons, we would surely prefer a peaceful, democratic transition as exemplified by the Chilean elections to a violent change.

3.5 Provide Investment Opportunity for US Companies

US policy has been to pressure the Cuban government by stopping foreign investment. While we have slowed foreign investment, we have not stopped it. Perez-Lopez [19, 20] discusses the quality, quantity, strategic value, and other aspects of foreign joint ventures in Cuba. He reports that the number of joint ventures has grown from fewer than 20 at the end of 1990 to about 60 at the end of 1991, 76 in November, 1992, 180 at the end of 1994, and 230 by May, 1995 [20]. (On the other hand, he reports that that these investments are often worth less than their reported face value [19]). Further evidence of foreign business and investment is provided by Table 7, showing the number of businesses with Cuban offices by nation.

While designed to precipitate change, our policy has had the undesirable side effect of reducing US business opportunity. Without addressing investment in general, it can be argued that network- related investment would be consistent with current US law, would have destabilizing effects of its own, and provide opportunity to US business.

3.6 Develop Robust Cuba-US Trade

While trade is illegal today, one day trade relations will be established, and good communication infrastructure will be of value.

3.7 Find new Forms of Management and State/Enterprise Relationships

Humanity has experimented broadly during the 20th century. We have learned that a central, planned economy is less efficient than a market economy at the production of goods and services, and can inflict catastrophic environmental damage and lead to arbitrary, capricious distribution of income and power. While relatively efficient, market economies also inflict environmental damage and lead to wide variance in the distribution of income and wealth, with attendant human and moral cost. These concerns are widely held, as witnessed, for example, in the NAFTA debates in the US Congress or the Pope's recent U. N. speech.

Transitions like those in Eastern Europe and Cuba may provide the opportunity for further experimentation and variety in management and state/enterprise relationships. For example, the recent law liberalizing foreign investment in Cuba allows the investor to own an enterprise and its capital assets, but the employees work for the state. It will be interesting to see the results of this arrangement over time.

A robust communication infrastructure would help provide the environment needed for new forms of organization to evolve and would also be used by these organizations. While only one component of that environment, it is significant.

3.8 Protect the Environment and Conserve Natural Resources

The current economic crisis has caused Cuba to cut energy consumption. This has caused hardship, but also conservation, rationing, reengineering and substitution -- for example in the large scale use of bicycles. To the extent that communication can be traded for transportation in the economy and education systems, an improved communication infrastructure may be seen as making a contribution to efficiency and preservation of the Cuban environment.

3.9 Gain access to Cuban Information

Discussion of communication networks in developing nations often centers on the advantages to the developing nation of gaining access to information and experts in developed nations; however, this is a two-way street. For example, Cuba has strong biomedical research and therapy programs, and improved communication will facilitate access to Cuban databases and experts. Cuban science will also benefit from contact with colleagues internationally, to the advantage of all mankind. The improvement of Cuban biomedical science and access to its results would be to the humanitarian benefit of Cubans and all others, particularly Latin Americans who make use of Cuban health resources.

Cuba also has information resources in other fields, for example, the digitized Havana Art Museum collection or Spanish-language educational software.

4. Conclusion

I have argued in favor of a policy which facilitates the improvement of Cuban computer networks and the infrastructure needed to support them. Such communication would further a number of US goals, such as free elections and respect for human rights. It would also have economic benefit for Cuba, which would be of humanitarian value, but would be counter to the strategy of trying to force Cuba to capitulate and oust Castro. This is the US policy dilemma.

Fidel Castro and the Cuban Government also face the dictator's dilemma. Communication technology is an important resource for economic growth [30], yet it opens the door for freedom of internal and external expression which could threaten the regime. Some governments have chosen to suppress information technology regardless of the economic cost [9], but as we have seen, Cuba is more positive toward computer networks.

In the current energy and economic crisis, communication is difficult in Cuba. The obsolete telephone infrastructure is deteriorating, paper, copier toner and other supplies are very difficult to find, and television broadcast schedules have been cut. Computer networks may partially fill this void, making them a low-cost investment with a high marginal return.


  1. Ironically, the marginal value of small, UUCP networks is high in developing nations because cheap, reliable telephone service does not exist.
  2. Cuba has sent several students to ISOC Developing Nation Workshops, and one, Carlos Armas, has been a faculty member. Armas also conducted a successful training workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean in Havana last year.
  3. In 1992 the government officially distributed pirated copies of commercial software [18]. This may no longer be the case. While IP networking software could also be pirated, a viable Cuban software writing and distribution industry will eventually require modification of this practice.
  4. Personal computers have been common in the US since the early 1980s. (A personal computer was the Time Magazine "Man of the Year" in 1984, and the Internet made the covers of Time and Newsweek in 1994). Most U. S. children are exposed to computers in school. In 1994, the U. S. had 77.5 million PCs, a rate of 29.75 per 100 people. Powerful, multimedia-capable computers have found a strong market in homes. The U. S. has 63 PCs/100 workers, and 90% of the Internet hosts and 92% of electronic mail boxes are in North America and West Europe.
  5. The 1995 US State Department report on human rights [28] lists Cuban problems, including extrajudicial killing of people leaving in boats, routine use of arbitrary arrest and detention, and obtrusive block committees that monitor behavior and attitudes. The government does not allow freedom of critical speech, and the Cuban constitution states that electronic and print media are state property. As a visitor, one notes propaganda in the electronic media and billboards, and is aware of surveillance.

    On the other hand, the State Department report acknowledges there were no reports of disappearances, no restriction on domestic travel, an easing of religious repression, and that many blacks have benefited from the social changes of the revolution. As a visitor, one is struck by the willingness of people on the street to speak openly of politics, and of cultural liberalization. For example, the movie "Strawberries and Chocolate," which presents political criticism and a sympathetic portrayal of eccentric behavior and homosexuality, played in theaters and was widely available on video tape.


  1. Armas, Carlos, "Cuba," in the Eye on Developing Nations section, OnTheInternet, pp 38-39, July/August, 1995.
  2. Bardacke, Ted, "Mexicans to Buy 49% of Cuban Phone System," Washington Post, June 14, 1994.
  3. Beird, Richard C., letter from Beaird, Senior Deputy U. S. Coordinator, Bureau of International Communications and Information Policy, U. S. Department of State to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, October 3, 1994
  4. Dolan, Kerry A., "Their Man in Havana," Forbes, Spetember 11, 1995, pp 60-68.
  5. FCC, Common Carrier Action, Report No. CC-588, October 5, 1994.
  6. Feinsilver, Julie M., "Cuban Biotechnology, A First World Approach to Development," in Perez-Lopez, Jorge F., ed., "Cuba at a Crossroads," pp 167-189, University of Florida Press, Gainsville, FL, 1994.
  7. Gonzalez, Edward and Ronfeldt, David, "Cuba Adrift in a Postcommunist World" R-4231-USDP, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 1992.
  8. Gonzalez, Edward and Ronfeldt, David, "Storm Warnings for Cuba," MR-452-OSD, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 1994.
  9. Goodman, S., and Green, J. D., "Computing in the Middle East," Communications of the ACM, Vol 35, No 8, pp 21-25, August, 1992.
  10. Goodman, S., Press, L., Ruth, S., and Rutkowski, A., "The Global Diffusion of the Internet: Patterns and Problems," Communications of the ACM, Vol 37, No 8, pp 27-31, August, 1994.
  11. Gunn, Gillian, "Cuba in Transition," The Twentieth Century Fund Press, New York, 1993.
  12. Gunn, Gillian, Cuba's NGOs: Government Puppets or Seeds of Civil Society," Cuba Briefing Paper Number 7, February, 1995, Georgetown University Hatii-Cuba Project, Washington, DC.
  13. Haines, Lila, "Cuba's Telecommunications Market," Columbia Journal of World Business," 30:1, Spring, 1995, pp 50-57.
  14. Inter-American Dialogue, Cuba in the Americas: Breaking the Policy Deadlock, The Second Report of the Inter-American Dialogue Task Force on Cuba, Washington, D.C., September 1995.
  15. Kedzie, Christopher R., "Democracy and Network Interconnectivity," Proceedings of INET '95, International Networking Conference, Honolulu, HI, August, 1995, Internet Society, Reston, VA.
  16. Kedzie, Christopher R., "Coincident Revolutions," OnTheInternet, in press.
  17. Martinez, Jesus Alfonso, "Desarrollo de la Iniciativa Cubana Red CENIAI del al Academia de Siencias de Cuba," III Foro de Redes Academicas de la America Latina y El Caribe, Caracas, Venezuela, October 17-22, 1993.
  18. Mesher, G., Briggs, R., Goodman, S, Press, L., and Snyder, J., "Cuba, Communism, and Computing," Communications of the ACM, November, 1992.
  19. Perez-Lopez, Jorge F., "A Critical Look at Cuba's Foreign Investment Program," Meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Washington, D. C., September 28-30, 1995.
  20. Perez-Lopez, Jorge F., "Islands of Capitalism in an Ocean of Socialism, Joint Ventures in Cuba's Development Strategy," in Perez- Lopez, Jorge F., ed., "Cuba at a Crossroads," pp 190-219, University of Florida Press, Gainsville, FL, 1994.
  21. Press, L. and Snyder, J., "A Look at Cuban Networks," Matrix News, 2(6), Matrix Information and Directory Services, Austin, June, 1992.
  22. Press, L., "Relcom, An Appropriate Technology Network," Proceedings of INET '92, International Networking Conference, Kobe, Japan, June, 1992, Internet Society, Reston, VA. Reprinted in "The Proceedings of the Telecommunications Conference," Moscow, Russia, June, 1992.
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Table 1. Cuban Networks With International Links

CENIAI, the Center for Automated Interchange of Information of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, began networking in 1982, and has had a UUCP link to the Internet since 1991. They currently offer email, database access, mail lists, and programming and consulting services, and maintain a presence on a Gopher server located in Uruguay. CENIAI has long sought international IP connectivity and a national backbone, and has a registered class-b IP address [17]. They plan to offer dial-up PPP access in the near future.

Tinored (Tino Network -- Tino, a Cuban cartoon character, is the logo) was the established by the Cuban Youth Computer Clubs, an organization with explicit support of Fidel Castro, that operates 150 walk-in computer centers throughout the nation [23]. One hundred of these have Tinored email accounts, and approximately 80 have working (2400bps) modems. Tinored is also a gateway for Red David, which supports at least 31 NGOs.

CIGBnet is the network of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and affiliated institutions [1]. They have a central site in Havana and three remote sites. CIGBnet began in 1991 and has grown to 900 users. They provide email, database access, a biological sequence server, and a mail list server. They also operate Gopher and WWW (multimedia document) servers that are accessible only from the main center. CIGB staff have developed their own mail-based database server, off-line mail package, and sequencing server software, and they are continuing such work.

Infomed, the network of the National System of Health Information of the Cuban Ministry of Health, has been operating since 1992. They have 500 accounts, 80% of which are shared by more than one person within an organization, and provide email, discussion groups, file retrieval, database search, and consultation. While they currently operate a single node in Havana, they are building a distributed network with 13 servers in Cuban medical schools with support from the Pan American Health Organization and UNESCO.

Table 2: Monthly Cuabn Internet Traffic (K bytes)

             Receive  Transmit Total

    Tinored   4689.29 12019.97 16709.26
    CENIAI   3945.366 12535.36 16480.72
    INGEN    4542.856 8897.882 13440.73

    Total    13177.51 33453.22 46630.73

    Source:  Riff Fullen,, August, 1995
Table 3: Cuban Main Lines in Context

                                  GDP '93      Mains   Mains/   Mains/
                            Pop   ($ bil)      (000) 1000 Cap  mil GDP

    Cuba                   11.0      12.9      349.5     31.8     27.2
    Bahamas                 0.3       3.1       76.2    282.2     24.6
    Dominican Republic      7.5       7.3      474.4     63.3     65.0
    Jamaica                 2.4       3.8      250.5    103.1     65.9
    Puerto Rico             3.7      35.8    1,314.8    360.2     36.7
    Haiti                   7.0       2.6       45.0      6.4     17.3

    Low income nations  3,147.2   1,276.0   46,522.2     14.8     36.5
    Lower middle        1,110.6   1,616.6   93,189.7     83.9     57.6
    Upper middle          508.4   2,242.8   71,893.4    141.4     32.1
    High income           838.9  18,850.2  435,521.7    519.2     23.1

    World               5605.01   23985.6     647128    115.5     27.0
The Cuba figures are from the Cuban Ministry of Communications, September, 1995. All other figures are from "World Telecommunication Development Report," International Telecommunication Union, October, 1995. Due to publishing lags, the Ministry of Communication figures are the most current and accurate.

ITU defines income groups by $GDP/capita as follows: low, $695 or less; lower-middle, $696-2,785; upper-middle, $2,786-8,625; and high, 8,626 or more.

Table 4: Voice Channels from US to Cuba (64 kbps)

Carrier     Link          by the FCC   In Use

AT&T        undersea cable      143       114
AT&T P. R.  Intelsat            150       150
MCI         Intelsat            150       120
Sprint      Intelsat            120        30
Worldcom    Intersputnik        390        90

Totals                          953       504
The Worldcom figure is the sum of the authorizations of WilTel (120), LDDS (150), and IDB (120), which were merged.

Further compression can increase these figures.

WilTel (WorldCom) also has permission for occasional use of 2 satellite video links via Intelsat.

Source: Troy Tanner, Attorney-Advisor, FCC, Report No. CC-588, Memorandum Opinion, Order, Authorization & Certification DA 94-1098, and a letter from the State Department to AT&T dated June 19, 1995.

Table 5: Cuban NGOs with Tinored Accounts

     Centro de Estudios de Africa y Medio Oriente
     Centro de Estudios Europeos
     Casa de las Americas
     Centro de Estudios Martianos
     Centro de Estudios sobre Estados Unidos
     Centro de Estudios sobre Alternativas Politicas
     Centro de Investigaciones de la Economia Mundial
     Centro de Estudios de la Economia Cubana
     Movimiento Cubano por la Paz
     Grupo de Desarrollo Integral de la Capital
     Memoria de los Movimientos Populares de America Latina
     Centro Memorial "Martin Luther King"
     Centro "Felix Varela"
     Asociacion por la Unidad de Nuestra America
     Radio Habana-Cuba
     Centro de Estudios sobre Asia y Oceania
     Grupo de Desarrollo de la Bicicleta en Cuba
     Catedra "Pablo de la Torriente Brau"
     Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba
     Centro de Investigacion y Estudios de las Relaciones Interamericanas
     Centro de Investigacion de la Economia Internacional
     Centro de Informacion para la Prensa
     Federacion de Mujeres Cubanas
     Grupo para la Educacion sobre el SIDA
     Instituto  Superior Latinoamericano de Ajedrez
     Asociacion Cubana de Esperanto
     Alcoholicos Anonimos
     Union de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba
     Federacion de mujeres cubanas
     Editorial Jose Marti
     Consejo ecumenico de Cuba
Source: Carlos Valdes, Tinored System Administrator. (Valdes states there are some others, but he did not have their names at hand at the time of this message).

Table 6: Basic Indicators, Chile, Costa Rica, and Chile

                                   GNP per    Life  Primary
                            Pop.  capita *    Exp.   School  Illit.
                           (mil)       ($)   (yrs)  Enroll.    Rate
                        mid-1993      1993    1993     1991    1990

  Chile                    13.80     3,170      74       87%      7%
  Costa Rica                3.30     2,150      76       87%      7%
  Cuba                     10.86     1,537      76       97%      6%

  Source:  World Bank
  * Cuban GNP is from the ITU
Table 7: Foreign Firms Registered in Cuba, April, 1994

    Country          No.  Pct.       Country          No.  Pct.

    Spain             80  24.5%      Argentina         10   3.1%
    Panama            52  15.9%      Australia          1   0.3%
    Germany           17   5.2%      Austria            2   0.6%
    Japan             17   5.2%      Belgium            2   0.6%
    France            14   4.3%      Bermuda            1   0.3%
    Mexico            13   4.0%      Brazil             3   0.9%
    Canada            13   4.0%      Canada            13   4.0%
    Italy             12   3.7%      Cayman Islands     2   0.6%
    Argentina         10   3.1%      Chile              2   0.6%
    Switzerland        9   2.8%      Colombia           4   1.2%
    England            9   2.8%      Costa Rica         1   0.3%
    Virgin Islands     8   2.4%      Curacao            3   0.9%
    Holland            8   2.4%      Cypress            1   0.3%
    Russia             6   1.8%      Czech Republic     1   0.3%
    Dutch Antilles     5   1.5%      Denmark            1   0.3%
    Venezuela          5   1.5%      Dominican Repub    2   0.6%
    Nicaraugaua        4   1.2%      Dutch Antilles     5   1.5%
    Colombia           4   1.2%      Ecquador           3   0.9%
    Lichtenstein       4   1.2%      England            9   2.8%
    Ecquador           3   0.9%      France            14   4.3%
    Brazil             3   0.9%      Germany           17   5.2%
    Curacao            3   0.9%      Gibralter          1   0.3%
    Cayman Islands     2   0.6%      Greece             1   0.3%
    Austria            2   0.6%      Holland            8   2.4%
    Chile              2   0.6%      India              1   0.3%
    Belgium            2   0.6%      Isle of Jersey     1   0.3%
    Dominican Repub    2   0.6%      Italy             12   3.7%
    Uraguay            2   0.6%      Japan             17   5.2%
    Gibralter          1   0.3%      Lichtenstein       4   1.2%
    Martinique         1   0.3%      Martinique         1   0.3%
    Peru               1   0.3%      Mexico            13   4.0%
    Czech Republic     1   0.3%      Nicaraugaua        4   1.2%
    Portugal           1   0.3%      Panama            52  15.9%
    Greece             1   0.3%      Peru               1   0.3%
    Bermuda            1   0.3%      Portugal           1   0.3%
    India              1   0.3%      Russia             6   1.8%
    San Bartholomew    1   0.3%      San Bartholomew    1   0.3%
    Denmark            1   0.3%      Singapore          1   0.3%
    Singapore          1   0.3%      Slovakia           1   0.3%
    Costa Rica         1   0.3%      Spain             80  24.5%
    Cypress            1   0.3%      Switzerland        9   2.8%
    Isle of Jersey     1   0.3%      Uraguay            2   0.6%
    Australia          1   0.3%      Venezuela          5   1.5%
    Slovakia           1   0.3%      Virgin Islands     8   2.4%

    Total            327 100.0%      Total            327 100.0%

    Source:  Cuban Chamber of Commerce
    There were also 29 Cuban firms registered.