While many people around the world enjoy the basic freedom of a decent internet connection, Venezuelans are left wondering why they’ve been left behind.
According to the PanAm Post, about 16 million Venezuelans access the slowest internet in the Western Hemisphere on a daily basis.
The United Nations declared internet access a “human right” in 2011 and urged national governments to make it widely available and accessible to everybody. According to the UN special rapporteur for free speech, Frank La Rue, “universal access to the internet must be a priority for all countries.”
The Venezuelan government did not heed that advice.
While Colombia offers transmission speeds of up to 150 Mbps, Venezuela provides a disturbingly-low 2 Mbps to its citizens.
To put this in perspective, Cuba offers access to broadband connections of 2.9 Mbps. Palestine, a country at war, offers internet speeds that are three times faster than those found in Venezuela.
The slow internet is a deliberate move by the Venezuelan government to cut spending and create lower budgets. This was achieved by nationalizing CANTV, the largest telecommunications provider in the country, in 2007.
CANTV provides 80% of the internet connections in Venezuela. In comparison, there are over 334 computer server manufacturers in the U.S. alone, and no telecommunications company comes close to owning 80% of the American market.
The government’s intentional sabotage of its own citizens’ internet is even more confusing, given how many Venezuelans use it on a daily basis. According to BlastingNews.com, Venezuela was the country with the highest rate of internet use in 2014.
One would think that the Venezuelan government would try to capitalize on its tech-savvy citizens and provide them with the best internet possible. Sadly, this is not the case.
There are no immediate signs of the government putting additional funding into improving the internet. If anything, the internet restriction is making it more alluring for citizens who work in IT to leave the country.
Venezuela’s productivity is at risk, and the country could start quickly spiraling downward into a recession if the problem isn’t fixed in the near future.