For those of us involved in the internet business, it has been a very interesting time lately. Cuba finally turned up its only fiber-optic cable, and real internet access is finally arriving in the island nation.
It is worth pointing out that such access is still probably only available for a limited number of users, those in the government, some foreign companies and some tourists. But this relatively small step is a big deal for Cuba and Cuban exiles in the United States.
You can read more about the internet arriving in Cuba here. To summarize: Cuba has been completely cut off from the internet except for a few select satellite links. Satellite is problematic because of the latency. A satellite signal must travel from Cuba and then up to a satellite and then down to the Earth again, which means the best latency you can get is in the range of 600 msec. This means that many applications, like Youtube, video and internet voice, will work very poorly or not at all. The fiber-optic cable from Cuba to Venezuela is cutting latency down to as low as 200 msec, which is still pretty slow but will allow other applications to be used. But, again, the internet is not available for general usage yet and is heavily controlled by the government.
Information is power. In theory, more information can help break down the Cuban dictatorship, and this is the hope of most Cuban exiles. But even if the Cuban leadership maintains power, there are small signs that Cuba is opening to new religious groups. One of the interesting trends that has taken place in the last few decades is the opening of the Church to new countries that were previously closed, including Eastern Europe and several additional countries in Asia. The Church is also operating very quietly in other countries where it is not officially recognized. The spread of free information has very often preceded the spread of the Church by a few years.
At last report, a small branch of the Church was operating in Havana.
In addition, this report indicates that Cuba is under the Jamaica mission, and the mission president has begun traveling to Cuba to perform mission business. That report is almost two years old, so it is safe to say that Church efforts are taking place under the radar in Cuba.
This informational post indicates that Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists are also operating in Cuba.
Church growth does not follow a straight-line, predictable pattern. Sometimes Church growth will prove problematic, in the United States and elsewhere. But if you look at overall trends, it is undeniable that Joseph Smith’s prophecy that the Church will “fill the world” is coming true before our eyes.