Fantasy Football is hugely popular on these shores, but yesterday’s historic and largely unexpected announcement of a ‘normalization’ of relations between the US and Cuba was more akin to Fantasy Diplomacy.
Not only did President Obama and Raul Castro get around the fire and begin the Cold War’s final thawing process, but it was a deal brokered by none other than Pope Francis. We’re looking at an ‘Avengers-style’ approach to international politics these days, or something like a supergroup… the Cream of heads of state and religion, if you will.
So while the important news filtered down and out into the public sphere ($100 allowance on rum and cigars. Alright!), we at BaDoink have begun to consider what any relaxation in restrictions means for the tech and sex industries.
Cuba and the Internet have something of a strained relationship. The Cuban government has failed to invest in sufficient infrastructure repeatedly over the years, and Cuba only become connected for the very first time in 1996. Despite 23.2% of the population having access, they are forced to connect to a government maintained intranet. As such, it is a total repression of their citizens’ digital freedom.
Worrying too for the US is the fact that China was responsible for the building of undersea cables between Cuba and Venezuela. Should any funding for infrastructure come from the US, it may push the digital balance of power in that region even further to the East.
You don’t have to some kind of genius to work out that with severe Internet restrictions, there is no tech market. Nor any start-ups and a serious lack of innovation.
Cuba, should it decide to open its doors for business to tech, may find itself hindered by its corporation tax rate. At a flat 30%, it still offers less incentive overall than the US, which offers 15-39% federally, 0-12% at state level 0-3% locally. Its flat individual maximum of 50% is also inflexible when compared to the US equivalents.
Those in the porn biz may have had their ears pricked up following yesterday’s announcement, particularly those in LA, currently looking for markets that won’t call for mandatory condom use on set.
Given too the various problems the adult industry has had with Google AdWords, and the sense of puritanical whitewashing the company appears to hold against the biz, perhaps the time is right for a few companies to head out there and see what the big deal is.
But there’s a caveat… and it’s a pretty huge one: filming porn in Cuba is illegal. No ifs, no butts. Some of the first places to feel the pinch when the Communist revolution swept across town were the brothels and strip joints of Cuba. The ‘sweep it under the carpet’ attitude has prevailed ever since.
And while the country has a surfeit of prostitutes and male “hustlers”, attitudes to porn itself and the industry remain very closed.
Nobody is expecting yesterday’s announcement to bring about a flood of changes in a short space of time. The US and Cuba first have to try and repair over half a century of awkward silence and clumsy attempts at sabre rattling. It would be remiss of people to expect the ‘uncharted’ markets of Cuba to suddenly become a tech hub with new opportunities and relaxed attitudes. They are a society almost a world away from their much bigger neighbors.
Of course, it remains to been whether the leaders and people of Cuba even want this avalanche of tech and smut to come crashing through the streets. There’s plenty of time yet to discover which way things will be heading.
Hey, you never know, there might be some budding entrepreneur out there willing to cater to the insatiable sex market of the US – we might yet see some form of Cuban cigar-themed sex toy on the shelves soon. Some of you might just be Havana real blast in the near future!