Google revealed as unlikely go-between to help Trump-Cuba relations

By: Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, March 29, 2019

Google has worked as an intermediary between the Trump administration and the Cuban government as it has sought a deal to improve internet access on the island, according to private remarks by Google’s manager in Havana.

A new memorandum of understanding unveiled this week between Google and Etesca, the Cuban telecommunications monopoly, is set to kickstart negotiations on technical ways that Google could help improve internet connectivity, including the possible buildout of an underwater cable.

A new report by Campaign for Accountability, a […] watchdog group that is critical of Google… has chronicled the way in which the company sought to forge ties in Cuba beginning in 2014, when Schmidt and three other Google executives flew to Cuba on a private jet as part of what they said was an academic research project.

New documents obtained by CFA through freedom of information act requests show that Google attorneys sought to get permission for the trip from the US government at the time by alleging that it did not serve any “commercial purpose”. Months later, after their return, Google announced that Chrome would be made available in Cuba for the first time, followed by other products.

The report by CFA alleges: “Google’s early trip to Cuba – made ostensibly for academic research purposes – turned out to have broad commercial implications for the company, putting it in pole position to connect one of the largest remaining virgin markets in the hemisphere.”

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