Cuba lifts ban on computer sales
Toasters still an enemy of the working class until 2010
Cuban president Raul Castro has lifted the country's ban on the sale of petit bourgeois merchandise like computers, DVDs, video players and other consumer electronics goods.
So ends years of technological prohibition placed under the regime of his brother Fidel Castro, which had classified the electronic devices and appliances as wasteful.
"Based on the improved availability of electricity the government at the highest level has approved the sale of some equipment which was prohibited," reads an alleged internal government memo obtained by Reuters.
The memo catalogs PCs, video players, 19-inch and 20-inch television sets, electric pressure cookers, rice cookers, microwaves, car alarms and other electronics merchandise as now freely available on the market, according to the news service.
For years, government-run electronics stores have controlled what products could be sold to Cuban citizens. The legal purchase of a personal computer was often only authorized — and within the financial means — of foreigners and diplomats.
Cuba has a reputedly thriving black market of electronics and access to an unrestricted internet for tech-craving citizens willing to take the risk.
However, since Fidel Castro provisionally handed his brother leadership in July 2006, some restrictions necessitating the underground have been relaxed. Last year, customs regulations were eased on some import desktop computers and car parts.
"The country's priority will be to meet the basic needs of the population, both material and spiritual," Raul Castro said when he took office.
Cuba's proles must wait until next year before they can buy air conditioners, however. The dark influence of toasters won't be seen until 2010 — allegedly due to limited power supplies.
Access to the internet remains government-controlled. Surely they could make an exception for El Reg? Power to the people, and all that? ®
Computers in Cuba
How much did the US embargo have to do with this? The tone of this article and the trivial comments it generated simply highlight the fact that there is no correlation between people having free access to the computers, the internet and information, and their desire to use it enlighten themselves about the history of this island.
The revolution in Cuba and all that has happened since is an attempt to create a more fair and equal society for everyone. I for one would give up access to technology to further this project.
1) Open a PC shop in Havanna.
2) Over clock the processor. Modify the DVD drive to accept a slice of bread.
Doubt if they could afford them anyway.
Had a great holiday there, but visiting the town was educational to say the least.
The public infrastructure appeared fine, with good main roads and money sunk into the tourist industry, but life for the locals was an entirely different matter.
They have a nice climate and a nice natural environment but the homes and conditions they live in are harsh.
Fantastic really. We saw one chap pushing a large drum on a cart and were told he was delivering the water for his "area".
One chap had already told me about his "flat": Most of the "houses" are on the lines of large containers, so if you want to build a house you needed land. You could buy the land or ask someone who already had some and do a cheaper deal. He told me he had asked the person if he could build on top of his house and he agreed and so he had started. He was living there with his wife and child but after a couple of years they still had no proper steps. One takes this with a pinch of salt but sure enough when I got to the town there were all these buildings with new buildings being put on top. As it was different builders and different material and the climate was so good, many of them only consisted of half built walls with roofs, no windows, and sure enough every type of contraption stuck on the side to allow access. Some had proper steps, some had spiral staircases and many just had ladders tied on. There were electricity cables strung out to the houses, but it is hard to imagine PC set ups there. They don't even have prams or buggies. When we queried it with the locals they just said the mothers carried the kids until they could fend for themselves.
One major problem that I didn't really like contributing to was the lack of amenities for the locals. Apparently our hotel beach was the favourite spot in the area and the locals used to come and have family parties on the beach every weekend until the hotels started squeezing them out. One Canadian Doctor on holiday (other bonus point is the lack of brash Americans) spotted a local child drinking water from a rock pool and it was pointed out that because the hotels are A/I even if they could afford it there is nowhere for them to get refreshments as the old vendors have been barred. She went straight to the snack bar and stocked up with take away burgers and chips and cokes and took them back to the locals. Didn't spot her again so not sure if security saw her.
If they want help with these new PCs, I would go!
Internet in Cuba
Was on my honeymoon in Cuba in 2006 and could use the internet in the hotel no bother. You had to pay a little old lady to log you in, but that was all!
Oh, and there was a mobile network too, no problemo senor.
Most of the restrictions on Cuba are due to the US blockade. Not only did this mean that US goods should not be exported to the Cuba, but also the US goverment dictated to the rest of the woprld they should not either, otherwise the US would not deal with many of those companies.
However, due to the fact that Canada and much of the new oil rich South American Sates have stuck up two fingers to the US, many people got around this.
And I'm sure the US will get lovey with Cuba, now they have found a massive oil field just offshore.
Of course the worst thing that could happen to Cuba is they let to much American "culture" in.