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USINT in Havana offers the same cultural and educational activities as other U.S. missions worldwide

In light of recent public criticism of the work of the United States Interests Section in Havana (USINT), we would like to reconfirm our strong support for the free flow of information to, from and within Cuba and more generally for the Cuban people.

USINT’s cultural and educational activities are similar to those carried out by U.S. missions around the world, by other foreign diplomatic missions in Cuba, and by Cuban diplomatic missions throughout the world, including in the United States.

Within its limited capabilities, USINT provides free, uncensored internet access to the Cuban public.  This service would be neither controversial nor newsworthy if it weren’t for Cuban government limitations on internet use and the free flow of information.

USINT offers a basic computer course at our small distance learning center to teach the fundamentals of information technology, computer usage, internet research, and respect for Intellectual Property Rights.  English language and journalism courses are also offered.

The Cuban government’s refusal to permit internet access to its citizens has nothing to do with U.S. sanctions.  The United States permits the export of internet services to Cuba.  Cuba is free to negotiate contracts with U.S. and international internet service providers and those providers may apply for U.S. licenses if needed, just as telephone and other telecommunication service providers have done.  Millions of telephone calls go between the United States and Cuba.  There would also be millions of Cuban internet users were it not for the restrictive policies of the Cuban government.

In addition to allowing the use of technologies that support the free flow of information, the U.S. government supports the delivery of humanitarian relief and allows for the sale or donation of food, agricultural products, medicines and medicinal devices to Cuba. 

This year alone, private Americans will send billions of dollars in assistance to families and communities in Cuba, assistance made all the more critical in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  This week over thirty representatives from the U.S. agricultural industry are participating in a trade fair here in Havana --  many of whom already supply food to the island.  The United States is, in fact, the second largest supplier of food to Cuba.

The U.S. Interests Section welcomes genuine engagement that supports a prosperous and democratic Cuba.