Cuba, Cable TV Dance a New Mambo

When President Obama sets foot in Cuba this week — the first U.S. president to do so in 88 years — it will signal a change in relations between the two countries that will extend way beyond opening the island nation as a tourism destination.

The barrier is crumbling between the U.S. and one of its closest geographical neighbors. We stand at the brink of a new era in which airlines, banks and manufacturers stand shoulder to shoulder with telecommunications companies, program providers and technology innovators to open a new and different age in commerce and human relationships with our Caribbean neighbor.

I can say, from first-hand experience, that our company’s relationship with Cuba, its people and its home broadcaster has been a journey of surprises and delights. Cuba’s people want to retain their identity and I can’t think of a more important way to share their unique cultural values than to reveal their art, literature, music and sports via TV programming to the United States.

Throughout recent history, whenever a seismic shift occurs in our relationships around the world, the cable television industry has been a major player, communicating the spirit of celebration by giving voice and personality revealing an untold side for a segment of the world’s population.

We are invited to watch from our living room sofas here in the U.S. as change happens. This year, cable TV again has the opportunity to observe and uncover the emerging dialog between our two countries. I can’t think of any industry that is more powerful in provoking our nation’s curiosity in the world around us, or in opening our eyes and our hearts to it.

With President Obama’s historic island visit, the cable industry has the opportunity again to be a part of a vibrant new dialog, delivering to U.S. citizens the untold story of life in Cuba. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.

Lilian Samata is chief operating officer of CubaNetwork, a multi-platform and linear channel delivering original Cuban programming in both English and Spanish.

Image of Havana used under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany