The Mystery Of The Dysfunctional Optical Cable Venezuela Gave Cuba

July 10, 2012

It was another one of those Huguito gifts to the Castro brothers, an undersea optical cable to communicate Venezuela with Cuba in order to improve communications in that island. The cable was quickly laid down by the Chinese contractors and Venezuela’s Minister of Science and Technology, Chavez’ son in law, hailed it as if his office had contributed more than just $68 million dollars or so to purchase it. He said it was “fully operational”. Another triumph of Venezuelan technology, sorry, funding.

But nobody has seen any evidence that it is working.

Something happened with the gift, which so far has apparently not transferred a single byte or bit. Apparently many Cuban Government officials involved in the project have been jailed and the base station purchased to connect to the cable is apparently not compatible with it. There are also charges that both Cuban and Venezuelan officials were involved in some hanky panky with phone cards to call the island.

Thus, another great gift by the autocrat goes to waste, another 70 million or so dollars belonging to Venezuelans goes down the drain. Who cares, really?  We have a pipeline of gizilion dollars coming in every day and Chavez thinks it is unlimited. I just wonder whether the corruption was imported into Cuba or into Venezuela. Maybe this time it was truly a joint project.

Hope the Cuban don’t export their cholera to us next…

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28 Responses to “The Mystery Of The Dysfunctional Optical Cable Venezuela Gave Cuba”

  1. G.W.E.H. Says:

    the Alba-1 subsea cable is NOT operational contrary to recent reports about limited gov-gov interoperability. The cable is not yet terminated in Vz.

  2. exfiltrator Says:

    Lets hope that the Florida maffiosi Cubans don’t export theyre and the US Tuberculosis ( TB ) to the rest of the world !

    • Ira Says:

      Thank you for such a valuable contribution to this site.

    • Ira Says:

      Would you rather have Cuban cholera–a disease caused by drinking water that someone shit in?

      In 2012, in Cuba, people are actually suffering from cholera because of poor sanitation procedures/equipment/standards.

      Some revolution!!!

  3. Roger Says:

    From what I can find this cable can run 640Bb/s in two fibers of 320 each. Not bad if the cable is working as specified. The base stations their talking about sell for like 770K$ each so I miss the problem there. Also, from what I could find the total bandwidth serving Cuba is 65Mb/s and you can be sure the Cuban government wants and needs bandwidth. Regardless of infrastructure, this is a bottleneck. If they lite this cable up with a flashlite they could double the bandwidth serving Cuba. Just like the satellite, just a lot of un-answered questions.

    • ErneX Says:

      640Bb/s? you meant 640 megabits/sec?

      And they just have 65 megabits/sec now? then I can say I have more speed at home than the whole Cuba (100 megabits down and 10 megabits up, fiber to the home).

    • ErneX Says:

      Oh I think you meant 640 gigabits/sec, that makes more sense.

      • Roger Says:

        Sorry for the typo. It also hard to imagine that the US is blocking it. Chavez would just love such a battle.

  4. ErneX Says:

    This gives “comiéndose un cable” a whole new meaning. What a fancy cable this is.

  5. m_astera Says:

    Maybe someone will get some use from it, further on down the road.

  6. moctavio Says:

    The contract was awarded to Alcatel Shanghai Bell, whether it is French Chinese otr Chinese French I dont know, probably better commissions that way. If I ere french I would not boast too much about it, you got paid.

    • Humberto Says:

      Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell (ALSB) is jointly owned by Alcatel-Lucent (51%) and the Chinese Government (49%), Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) is a company formed from the acquisition of Lucent, an american company, by Alcatel, a French company. Alcatel-Lucent is traded in the Paris Bourse and in in the NYSE (through ADRs). I doubt bribes were paid since ALU is subject to US law: the Foreign Corrupt Practices act has resulted in huge fines and aggressive prosecution from the US DoJ.

      Given the pro-China bias in Venezuela, ALU has wisely chosen to expose the “chinese” version of the company instead of the franco-american facade. However, ALSB sell the exact same products and services that the franco-american company sells some of which are actually designed in the USA. Further, employees of both companies mix freely and incestuously. The current head of ALSB is in fact an ALU executive .

      In my opinion, the problem is quite simply that there is nothing to connect to on the Cuban side. There is no optical network in place and no IP routers, or nothing vaguely resembling a modern telecom infrastructure in Cuba. Hence, the undersea cable is useless.

      • moctavio Says:

        With the Chinese involved, I would not put my hand in the fire, that they got a bribe and that the US looks the other way.

        • Humberto Says:

          Here is another opinion on the topic: http://bit.ly/MZpBVE

          They agree that bribery could have been a factor. I am really skeptical. Both Alcatel & Lucent have been royally nailed in the past for FCPA violations and they payed dearly for it. And, they have to know that an ALSB deal with Cuba cannot escape DoJ scrutiny.

          Or is global politics that messed up? Dunno.


  7. Miguel

    It was the french who laid the cable, not the chinese.

  8. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s Minister for Science and Technology….

    Isn’t he that fresh-faced kid who was repeatidly photographed seated next to Hugo Chavez during his recuperation in Cuba? He doesn’t have that thuggish scowl that is present with most Chavez cabinet members. Who is he and could he really have botched this cable thing this badly?

  9. didier teirlynck Says:

    And what about the comunication satellite paid by Venecuba and set up by China???

  10. CarlosElio Says:

    There is a steady stream of failed projects coming out of the chavez government. The most benign claim of innocence is the flip of a coin. A success rate of 50% would be compatible with the hypothesis of a random decision making process. But this governments’s success rate goes to zero rather quickly. An statistician would say that the probability of success of any government-initiated project is “zero almost surely.”
    Ruling out randomness, we need to seek alternative explanations since the data shows a systematic mechanism at work here. If you dropped objects in a perfect vacuum they would fall down at the same speed, regardless of the shape or material of the object. That “empirical regularity” indicates the presence of a law of nature. Now we know that law and call it it Gravity.
    What is the law that explains why any project initiated by the chavez’s administration will fail almost surely?

    I have not collected the data to prove it, but I conjecture that it is a dismal breakdown in the decision making process. Decision theory is a mature science and the anatomy of healthy decision making has been described in detail by researchers in the field ( see http://bit.ly/MfYL5K for example)

    In the case of chavez’ government, the dictator dictates both processes and results before nature plays her hand. In this universe you can’t do that. In a small decision space, like rearing your own children, if you try to impose your will on your offspring you will get back monsters. In a big decision space like public administration, if you impose decisions you will harvest disasters.

    • m_astera Says:

      Good points, but I think the problem is much simpler than poor decision making or trying to impose an outcome. The problem is that no one at any point in the process cares one whit about the proposed project being completed beyond their own personal gain. Chavez cares only about whatever political capital he might gain, or whatever advantage that keeps him in power. Everyone else is only trying to steal as much as they possibly can. It really is that simple.

    • Ronaldo Says:

      Chavez believes that he controls nature. Therefore, Chavez decisions are always the best. It’s his subordinates that mess everything up. At least two ministers get fired for every project he creates.

    • Ken Says:

      CarlosElio This is very interesting to me what you are saying. I have observed for years that there are certain people that when they make a decision, almost always it will be incorrect; and with whatever decision they make initially they would be best to always do the opposite and things would go well for them. I am intrigued that this is perhaps an observable science.

  11. moctavio Says:

    Maybe that is why they are so nervous

    • Polls Schmolls Says:

      but are they nervous or just trying to say that it doesn’t work in order to manipulate as they please? just questioning it’s functionality… the corruption..well no doubts there

  12. Polls Schmolls Says:

    Isn’t that supposed to be where all those fraudulent Cuban votes were going to be channeled from?


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