In Cuba mystery shrouds fate of Internet cable

first_imgAssociated PressHAVANA (AP) – It was all sunshine, smiles and celebratory speeches as officials marked the arrival of an undersea fiber-optic cable they promised would end Cuba’s Internet isolation and boost web capacity 3,000-fold. Even a retired Fidel Castro had hailed the dawn of a new cyber-age on the island.More than a year after the February 2011 ceremony on Siboney Beach in eastern Cuba, and 10 months after the system was supposed to have gone online, the government never mentions the cable anymore, and Internet here remains the slowest in the hemisphere. People talk quietly about embezzlement torpedoing the project and the arrest of more than a half-dozen senior telecom officials. Comments   Share   She and the others spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of getting into trouble with their state employers.Multiple attempts to get Cuban and Venezuelan government officials to comment were unsuccessful.The Venezuela branch of Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent, which was contracted to lay the cable, referred questions to the Cuban-Venezuelan joint venture Telecomunicaciones Gran Caribe, where an official said he would need approval from Venezuela’s science and technology ministry to talk about the project. The ministry did not respond to requests to interview officials.Diplomats in Havana privately tell consistent stories of reported corner-cutting on the project that let corrupt officials skim millions of dollars from its budget.A senior French official told AP that Alcatel had upheld its part of the contract and whatever problems exist must be on land with the network it was meant to be attached to.“The cable must be connected to something or it won’t work,” said the official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the politically sensitive project.The lack of transparency is not unusual for Cuba, where all media is state-run and tightly controlled. But it flies in the face of Fidel Castro’s own enthusiastic words about the cable and the transformational power of the Internet. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Cuban-born economist Arturo Lopez-Levy said Havana has badly bungled the whole affair, and if it’s true that corruption killed the cable, officials should “make heads roll over the scandal” and give an open accounting of what went wrong.“The Cuban government failure to achieve this goal is one of the worst-managed situations,” said Lopez-Levy, a lecturer at the University of Denver, “aggravated by an even worse public relations fiasco to address it.”___Associated Press writers Peter Orsi, Paul Haven and Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana contributed to this report.___Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: https://sp2.img.hsyaolu.com.cn/wp-shlf1314/2032/IMG17710.jpg” alt=”last_img” /> read more