Monday, July 19, 2010

A call to open the telecom/IT sector

The Cuba Study Group, the Council of the Americas, and the Brookings Institution published a paper (pdf) last week that describes Cuba’s telecom/IT sector and argues that current U.S. laws and regulations are counterproductive. The authors see two benefits to broader access to communications technology: it is a “liberating force” in politics and a long-term benefit for the Cuban economy.

The authors do not ignore Cuba’s own technology restrictions, but they argue that it is “unreasonable” for the United States to wish for greater Cuban access to the Internet and social media while maintaining sanctions that hinder their development. They call for a broad relaxation of U.S. restrictions, and throughout the paper there is the refreshing assumption that Cuban economic development is not a bad thing for U.S. interests.

Cuba would not necessarily respond to a U.S. opening by signing deals with American companies to further develop its telecom/IT sector. But the point is that U.S. regulations should not be the obstacle. And the recommendations include ideas that are smaller in scope, but interesting – such as allowing American companies to hire Cuban talent to develop software and applications.

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