Early this week, the Associated Press reported that a much-touted fiber optic cable laid between Venezuela and Cuba in February, 2010, seemed to be MIA. The Cuban government hadn’t mentioned it lately and Internet on the island remained the slowest in the hemisphere, the report said.
Today, Venezuela issued a statement saying the 1,600-km cable is active, has a capacity of 640 gigabytes and has helped speed communication with the island and throughout the region.
"It's absolutely operational. It will depend on the Cuban government what it uses it for. Of course that's their sovereign matter, but we know that the undersea cable is in full operation," Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela's science and technology minister, told reporters, according to the AP.
If that’s true, the Venezuelan government could have saved itself the headache by communicating a bit more with the AP when they were writing their original story. The agency said it had tried repeatedly to tallk with government officials. Despite having an active communications department that sends out dozens of press releases a day, trying to get a Venezuelan official to answer a question can be difficult.
Several months ago, I was working on a story about Venezuela’s version of one laptop per child. I admire what they are trying to do and I was simply trying to get someone from the Ministry of Science and Technology to confirm some numbers. It never happened.
It’s that kind of silence that fuels rumors and seems to validate speculation – whether it’s Chávez’s health or the status of an undersea cable. In Miami recently, a telecom executive told me Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar I communications satellite, which was launched in 2008, never worked. Knowledgeable sources have since told me otherwise, and in today’s release the government highlighted the satellite’s success.
The government also said it will be launching a second Chinese-manufactured satellite, the Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda, by year’s end. The $140 million “remote viewing and observation” satellite will be used for planning social projects, defense, agriculture and urban planning, Arreaza said.
That sounds like grist for the rumor mill.