Just try to use Google Adsense in Cuba or open your email account on Google Apps for Work and you’ll get the same answer: “error 403. The service is not available for that country. That’s all we can tell you at the moment”. Not even the thaw of relations between Washington and Havana has made this Mountain View-based company lift the blockade on different services related to e-commerce for those who surf the web from the Island nation.
In June 2014, the CEO of Google, Erich Schmidt, visited Cuba and said that he expects that country to open its economy, politics and business sectors; while “the United States will have to put history aside and lift the Embargo. Both countries should do something that is hard to be done in political terms, but it’ll be worth it.”
This leading company has undertaken a series of actions aimed at lifting certain restrictions, which don’t entail a trade relation with Havana. For instance, it allowed the download of Google Chrome browser, reestablished the access to different sections of Google Analytics and opened the possibility to install free apps from Google Play; however, with the Blockade still in force, there are several services provided by the US company that can’t still be reached from IPs addresses in Cuba.
Two of the company’s most sought-after services — some of which generate the highest figures for Google—, Adsense and Adwords, are blocked for the Cuban people. There is no distinction between State-run companies and self-employed workers. “Error 403” is all you get in Cuba and that takes away a possibility for new companies in the country to make the most of the traffic generated from their websites and monetize those projects, in a context of higher impact of new technologies in Cuba.
Google Code is another restricted service, which prevents software developers in Cuba from gaining access to one of the most important code repositories on Earth. Something similar happens with Google Earth satellite maps.
There are limitations in terms of communications as well. Popular Gmail has always been open for the Cuban people, but those who have configured their corporative email account in their countries, by means of Google Apps for Work, will sadly receive this message in Cuba: “It seems that you are logging in from a country where Google Apps accounts are not allowed”, because that company “restricts the access to some of its business services in certain countries or regions, such as Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.”
“Error 403” is just another expression of the differences that still keep both countries away from each other. Nonetheless, the scenario after December 17 is more promising and expectations are higher on both sides of the Straits of Florida. In the future, when people in Cuba write Google Adsense on their browser and they can enjoy that service, then we’ll have a clear sign of how times are changing.”
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