US Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Google CEO Eric Schmidt were welcomed to the island country by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canal on Monday, June 4. As per reports by Efe News, the three exchanged their views on bilateral relations between the USA and Cuba as well as possible areas of cooperation. Jeff Flake is a regular to the island nation and is one of the biggest promoters in the Congress of improving relations with the country. Flake has been trying to push the Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier for US citizens to travel to Cuba, removing the restrictions in place by the current Trump administration.
Due to Washington's embargo, visitors are banned from entering the country as tourists which have severely hurt the Cuban economy which enjoyed a brief respite under Obama. The Obama administration greatly improved relations with the country, so much so that Universal Studios was able to film the seventh instalment of its Fast and the Furious franchise in the country, one of the few American movies to have been shot in Cuba. In 2015 the two countries reopened their embassies in Havana and Washington and signed numerous accords on security, immigration, education, healthcare and culture. However, Trump's policies have restricted the accords from fully materialising.
Google has shown great interest in moving into the Cuban telecommunications market, which it briefly did under former President Obama, even though it was a very limited presence. Three years ago, Google proposed to help develop the internet access in the country, where penetration is far below the international average. However, it never developed into a concrete program. Flake and Schmidt were accompanied by US charge d'affaires in Cuba, Philip Goldberg, and Brett Perlmutter, the Google CEO's adviser on Cuba.