Friday, March 28, 2008

Our Man in Havana

Cell phones. Internet. Cable. It's just possible Raul will allow the marxist haze to drift away from Cuba and let in the bright light of capitalism and a free economy.

Cuba Lifts Curbs on Cellphone Use

Associated PressMarch 28, 2008 10:18 a.m.

HAVANA -- President Raul Castro's government said it is allowing cellphones for ordinary Cubans, a luxury previously reserved for those who worked for foreign firms or held key posts with the communist-run state.

It was the first official announcement of the lifting of a major restriction under the 76-year-old Mr. Castro, and marked the kind of small freedom many on the island have been hoping he would embrace since succeeding his older brother Fidel as president last month.

Some Cubans previously ineligible for cellphones had already gotten them by having foreigners sign contracts in their names, but mobile phones are not nearly as common in Cuba as elsewhere in Latin America or the world.

Telecommunications monopoly Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A., or ETECSA, said it would allow the general public to sign prepaid contracts in Cuban convertible pesos, which are geared toward tourists and foreigners and worth 24 times the regular pesos Cuban state employees are paid in.

The decree was published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

The government controls well over 90% of the economy and while the communist system ensures most Cubans have free housing, education and health care and receive ration cards that cover basic food needs, the average monthly state salary is just 408 Cuban pesos, a little less than $20.

A program in convertible pesos likely will ensure that cellphone service will be too expensive for many Cubans, but ETECSA's statement said doing so will allow it to improve telecommunication systems using cable technology and eventually expand the services it offers in regular pesos.

The statement promised further instructions in coming days about how the new plan will be implemented, and there were no lines of would-be customers mobbing ETECSA outlets as they opened for business.

ETECSA is a mixed enterprise that operates with foreign capital from the Italian communications firm Italcom.


Blogger Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

next he gone let folks have cable. and i left a response to your comment. i said as a thinker, race and gender dont matter - that thinkers respect other thinkers even if they disaggree. have a great weekend

2:40 PM  
Blogger no_slappz said...

torrance, I disagree with you on this. I do believe race and gender matter when it comes to thinking. But they matter because race and gender bring differenct perspectives into the discussion.

On the other hand, race and gender don't matter when it comes to many abstract issues. Such as the Pythagorean Theorem.

However, we differ on Pythagoras too. It does not matter that we identify axa + bxb = cxc as the Pythagorean Theorem even though the concept was identified before he lived.

It's not as though the name has an impact on the use or validity of the theory. No one receives fame or fortune as a result of a connection to Pythagoras.

The theory cannot be copyrighted or patented by anyone. We are all free to use it any way we please, thus its origin is unimportant.

5:36 PM  

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