Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, the successor to Raul Castro, on Monday to discuss Internet infrastructure on the communist island.
Schmidt, who left his position as CEO of Google in 2017, remains a board member at Google parent company Alphabet, and was joined on his trip to Cuba by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and senior U.S. diplomat Philip Goldberg, according to Reuters.
“We already have an agreement signed that allows easier access to data,” declared Schmidt. “We would like to do more.”
In a statement, Flake claimed, “We are hopeful for the future if we can have more connectivity, more travel, more meetings with Cubans and vice versa.”
“We were talking specifically about connectivity, but also about the challenges that have come up,” he continued, noting President Trump’s trade embargo. “Obviously we have had some setbacks.”
In 2016, President Obama announced that Google, who donated over $800,000 to his 2012 campaign, would be providing Cuba with broadband.
Cuba is one of the many countries in the world currently classed as “not free” when it comes to Internet freedom.
Only 24 percent of Internet users in the world were classed as “free,” by Freedom House, while 29 percent were classed as “partly free” and 35 percent as “not free.”
“Free” countries included the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Kenya, South Africa, Georgia, Armenia, Japan, and the Philippines.
Countries classed as “not free” included China, Russia, Cuba, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bahrain, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the United Arab Emirates.