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Eric Schmidt and Entourage Pay a Call On Cuba 190

VentureBeat reports that the unofficial Google ambassador to the world has made another significant visit to a place where Internet access is either forbidden or impractical for most of the citizenry; hopefully it heralds change on that front. Continuing his tour of countries with authoritarian governments and less-than-favorable Internet access, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made a secret visit to Cuba yesterday. The U.S. government has forbidden its citizens from traveling to Cuba or spending any money within the country since cold war tensions in the 1960s. Even though the cold war is over, the ban remains in effect, which is why Schmidt’s visit is significant. Unofficially (meaning not on behalf of his company), the powerful Googler has also made controversial visits to North Korea and Myanmar to promote Internet freedom, and has previously spoken out against online censorship happening in both China and India. Schmidt, says the article, "was joined by a crew of former Google employees as well as author Jared Cohen."
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Eric Schmidt and Entourage Pay a Call On Cuba

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  • America the free lol (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:02PM (#47347427)

    Funny how they act that Cuba is soo taboo. Personally I been to Cuba 8 times already. Nicest beaches i have ever seen, and everything is pretty cheap there (except Havana), relatively safe and nice people. Also met a few Americans going through Canada.

  • Re:I live in Canada (Score:4, Interesting)

    by binarylarry ( 1338699 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:06PM (#47347445)

    I think it raises the question, is he really Canadian?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:18PM (#47347487)

    In practical terms, virtually nothing. I went for a couple weeks in the 1990's, driving to Toronto and joining a bunch of Canadian tourists on their chartered beach-vacation flight, ditching them as soon as we landed in Matanzas. The Cubans were perfectly happy to welcome a tourist with hard currency, even assenting to my friends' requests that their passports not be stamped with entry/exit visas.

    Admittedly, those were the days that you could cross the Canadian border with a US driver's license, and I was so cautious that I sent my passport back home by FedEx from the Toronto airport, but absolutely nothing came of it. I've since renewed my passport (mailing in the visa-stamped old one to the State Department) and passed a state bar background check, so at least in my case it was easy to pull off.

  • Re:I live in Canada (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:39PM (#47347559)

    stations. There's no such thing as a 'chain' there, everything is one-off. Although, for some reason you can get M&M's and Pringles. Other than that, you're forced to go native and it was pretty great.

    It is a lot less great if you live there. That is why they flee by the thousands, or tens of thousands, when they get a chance.

    Fifty years later, Cubans still are fleeing the revolution []

    The Lost World, Part I []

    I’m used to seeing military and police checkpoints when I travel abroad. Every country in the Middle East has them, including Israel if you count the one outside the airport. The authorities in that part of the world are looking for guns and bombs mostly. The Cuban authorities aren’t worried about weapons. No one but the regime has anything deadlier than a baseball bat.

    Castro’s checkpoints are there to ensure nobody has too much or the wrong kind of food.

    Police officers pull over cars and search the trunk for meat, lobsters, and shrimp. They also search passenger bags on city busses in Havana. Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez wrote about it sarcastically in her book, Havana Real. “Buses are stopped in the middle of the street and bags inspected to see if we are carrying some cheese, a lobster, or some dangerous shrimp hidden among our personal belongings.”

    If they find a side of beef in the trunk, so I’m told, you’ll go to prison for five years if you tell the police where you got it and ten years if you don’t.

    No one is allowed to have lobsters in Cuba. You can’t buy them in stores, and they sure as hell aren’t available on anyone’s ration card. They’re strictly reserved for tourist restaurants owned by the state.

    The Lost World, Part II []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2014 @11:01PM (#47347645)

    You are missing the other half of it. The cubans that stayed, hate the cubans in Florida as much as the cubans in Florida hate the cubans that stayed.

    I was in cuba with a group of attorneys. We were at a meeting with government officials who were explaining to us the evils of the US. In the middle of it, one of the attorneys blurted out, "Some of us quit divorce work because of people like you." That sentence pretty much sums up the entire state of US/Cuban relations.

    In fact, I think the only thing holding Cuba together right now is the US government and the sanctions. The US government is the enemy the Cuban's are united against. I believe if the US were to just drop the sanctions, Cuba would fall apart pretty quickly.

    Cuba is the US's neighbor and we should try to help them. They are trying to adopt some capitalism right now, and we should be trying to help. But for Cuba to move forward in a healthy way, there first needs to be a reconciliation between the Cuban's that left and the Cuban's that stayed and then Cuba has to accept that it is a third world country. Unfortunately, Cuba is not important enough for the US to devote the resources necessary to accomplish any of the above, and Cuba has neither the resources nor the ability to accept that any of the above is necessary.

    So basically, Cuba is just F*cked and there is no easy way out for them.

  • Re:I live in Canada (Score:5, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @11:13PM (#47347681)
    At this point, it has very little to do with communism. Florida is a big primary state and a big electoral state. Florida has a lot of Cuban-americans who would prefer we invade the island. They have traditionally fiercely opposed lifting the sanctions. Evidently this isn't as true as it was []. Still, outside of cuban americans, not many people care one way or the other.

    Thus, politicians gain very little and risk quite a bit by opposing the sanctions.

    And yes, it is fucking stupid on multiple levels: it was probably always counter-productive, political leaders should show some fucking backbone and end it, citizens shouldn't be so apathetic about keeping an entire nation impoverished, and why is florida even allowed to vote? []

    But, dumb as all that is, "we still hate communism" is not a big reason why we still have sanctions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2014 @02:47AM (#47348273)

    Look, Bush sucked, but the fact of the matter is that the only way he could have possibly NOT won Florida is a combination of bad luck and technicalities. Back in late 1999, it was taken for granted by literally EVERYONE in the state -- Republicans AND Democrats -- that Bush was going to win Florida by a landslide. So... on election day, lots of Republicans didn't bother to go vote, and the Democrats managed to get enough of their own voters to go vote anyway to erase most of that expected landslide.

    That's why the Gore campaign was calling for a new election in Florida... but ONLY allowing people who voted on election day to re-vote... and why Florida's legislature was equally determined that if there WAS going to be a repeat election, they were going to let ALL registered voters vote (even those who stayed home the first time). If the election were repeated & all Florida voters were allowed, there would have been close to 100% turn-out, and roughly 60-64% of those voters would have voted for Bush simply because they were registered Republicans who might not have really LIKED Bush... but who passionately HATED Gore.

  • by pr0sp3r0 ( 3462429 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @03:09AM (#47348335)
    When I was in Santiago I frequented a little coffee joint called El Combate. Absolutely delicious coffee, and shockingly cheap. Fuck Starbucks. Cuba not being covered by Coca Cola signs and other ads was like a breath of fresh air. Not saying Cuba's all hunky-dory, but there are some wonderful things about it that dropping the embargo would likely change for the worse.

Building translators is good clean fun. -- T. Cheatham