The United States is reportedly exploring ways to provide internet access to Cubans, as the communist regime on the island cracks down hard on protesters demanding civil liberty.
Media reports say the government is hoping to talk with private telecom operators, asking them to figure out a way to circumvent Havana’s tight control on the flow of information in the country.
The news comes barely a week after Washington imposed sanctions on a top Cuban military official as well as a special police unit.
President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to meet Cuban Americans on Friday, has warned that he might punish more such officials in the days to come.
There have been numerous protest marches across the island over the past few weeks, as people are angry over the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and shortages of basic goods such as food and medicine.
Cuba’s economy is in the doldrums, as the pandemic and US sanctions have kept foreign tourists at bay. The number of COVID cases is also on the rise.
It is not clear how the US will give internet access to Cubans. Havana protested in 2019 when the US State Department established Cuba’s Internet Task Force, calling the move a “foreign interference”.
Moreover, Chinese companies are increasingly dominating Cuba’s telecom sector in recent years, according to a 2019 study conducted by a US government task force.