Thursday, July 15, 2010

Empowering the Cuban People Through Technology - Cuba Study Group

July 15, 2010 - Press Release

* Cuba Study Group Releases Cutting-Edge Study on Empowering the Cuban People Through Technology

(Washington, DC) - The Cuba Study Group today published a whitepaper in collaboration with the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution entitled "Empowering the Cuban People Through Technology: Recommendations for Private and Public Sector Leaders."

The document outlines comprehensive U.S. policy recommendations aimed at facilitating greater access to technology and telecommunication devices in Cuba. Over 50 IT and telecom executives and other experts contributed to the drafting of these recommendations as part of the Cuba IT and Social Media Initiative convened by the Cuba Study Group in January 2010.

The Cuba Study Group simultaneously released, "Cuba IT & Social Media Initiative: Committee Reports and Recommendations," which describes a project that was "launched to develop specific recommendations for public and private sector leaders that will help Cubans on the island gain access to information technology.

"While both U.S. and Cuban government policies impede ordinary Cubans’ access to information technology and social media networks, the promise of a window to the outside world that technology represents is not lost on Cubans.

"The goal of the Cuba IT & Social Media Initiative is to identify ways to ensure that Cubans on the island have access to the technology they need to acquire and share information and communicate with each other and the outside world."

Carlos Saladrigas, the Co-Chairman of the Cuba Study Group had the following to say about the report's conclusions: "Current U.S. regulations restrict U.S. telecom company's ability to provide cell phone and Internet services to the island. There is much that the U.S. can do to support the growth of the Internet and social media in Cuba, thus helping the Cuban people become agents of change."

Christopher Sabatini, Senior Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas and Editor-in-Chief of Americas Quarterly added: "As this report shows, even compared to other closed societies, U.S. telecom regulations toward Cuba are stuck in the past--seriously constraining the potential of individual initiative and the Internet."

"Expanding telecommunication services to the Cuban people would improve their lives in multiple ways and facilitate the confidence-building that is so badly needed between our two countries.  The Obama Administration can do more on its own and with Congress to move from a Cold War policy to a new policy of critical and constructive engagement with Cuba," said Ted Piccone, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Foreign Policy Studies at The Brookings Institution.

In January 2010, the Cuba Study Group hosted a one-of-its-kind "Cuba IT & Social Media Summit" at the Americas Society / Council of the Americas in New York. The goal of the Summit was to identify ways to empower the Cuban people through IT and social media so that they may acquire and share information and communicate with each other and with the outside world. Following the summit, the Cuba Study Group established the Cuba IT & Social Media Initiative with four committees composed of over 50 information technology and telecommunications experts.

The whitepaper and full committee reports can be accessed online here and here.

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