http://havanajournal.com/business/entry/e_mail_dollars_and_the_internet_in_cuba/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

E-mail, dollars, and the Internet in Cuba

Posted February 10, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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HAVANA, February (http://www.cubanet.org)  The recent news that the government was getting ready to move against unauthorized Internet connections shook many here who had somehow contrived to get online.

In the last few years, the government took hurried, definite steps to
move the country toward the information age. It acquired thousands of
computers to be used in schools. It put in place a digital cable from one
end of the island to the other. It opened up a computation university
at the former Soviet electronic listening base at Lourdes.

The Cuban Post Office, which is nominally in charge of telephone
communications, offers e-mail service in cybercafes that have been set up in every municipality’s post office and even some free-standing ones. But
at present very few of these are operational. The computers installed
in these cybercafes belong to the TuIsla (Your Island) system, an
intranet that allows limited e-mail service.

Etecsa, the joint venture telephone company, offers access to Internet
and e-mail, but only to foreigners. The company’s service, called Enet,
operates small stores where they sell telephones, offer international
long distance, videoconferencing, and sell Internet access cards for 15
dollars, again only to foreigners.

The exposure, even if indirect, only whet Cubans’ appetite to surf the
Web and there arose a black market for computers and an underground net of sorts. About a year ago, a Cuban could secure a connection by
paying, in dollars, for an “international connection” for his phone, getting
a foreigner to front for him to buy a 15-dollar Internet card, and
installing a computer at home.

The best estimates are that by the end of 2003, beginning of 2004,
there were more than 40,000 such clandestine connections to the Internet.

Some used the 15-dollar cards, others bought passwords from people who
have them because they work at a foreign company.

The new regulations call for detecting these clandestine connections,
confiscating the equipment, levying a fine, and disconnecting the user’s
telephone service.

More likely than not, everyone who had one of those clandestine
connections to the Web has already taken it down.

A call to Etecsa this morning yielded the information that the 15-dollar Internet connection cards are no longer being sold.

The only remaining possibility right now for Cubans to log on is to
discretely buy an access card in a quiet hotel that has a cybercafe,
usually consisting of a computer on a table next to the bar, at a cost of 6
dollars for one hour’s use. This entails, of course, walking into a
hotel intended for foreigners only, so anyone who doesn’t look the part,
may find the entrance barred.

Officially, Internet usage in Cuba is controlled by a statute enacted
at the end of the 90s. Two-and-a-half years ago, in a flurry of
activity, the government started offering e-mail service, chatting for the
masses, but lately there has been a hasty retreat from that policy.

The irony behind it all is that after being the beneficiaries of a
campaign for computer literacy, Cubans will only be allowed to open
authorized windows.

Member Comments

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On March 29, 2004, idris musa wrote:


Dear Sir,
May i inform you that our Ministry is in need of computers for all the secondary schools in my country,i am Dr. Idris Musa, the P.A. to the Minister of Education of the Republic of Benin.If you can supply up to 2,200 computers under this conditions,
It has to be Pentium 4 & 3, Memory 256 mb & 128 mb,
with 14 inch color monitor,
Hard drive 20 Gb.
Get back to me with your price/quotation as you will be directed on how to get this contract as i will introduce your company to the Minister who will award the contract.Be inform that 60% will be paid up front before you start the supply.
Sincerely,
Dr Idris Musa

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On March 29, 2004, idris musa wrote:


Dear Sir,
May i inform you that our Ministry is in need of computers for all the secondary schools in my country,i am Dr. Idris Musa, the P.A. to the Minister of Education of the Republic of Benin.If you can supply up to 2,200 computers under this conditions,
It has to be Pentium 4 & 3, Memory 256 mb & 128 mb,
with 14 inch color monitor,
Hard drive 20 Gb.
Get back to me with your price/quotation as you will be directed on how to get this contract as i will introduce your company to the Minister who will award the contract.Be inform that 60% will be paid up front before you start the supply.
Sincerely,
Dr Idris Musa

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On November 11, 2004, mobrack.n. villak wrote:

Greetings!
Compliment of the season,

Dear Sir,

Do not feel bad receiving my message. My name is Mr.
mobrack.n. villak. I am a good friend to Late Mr.Roy
j.Hughes, a national of United Kingdom who was born on
the 7th day of Jan,1921 in Mexborough England who
untill his death has no wife nor son or daughter to
claim his assets hence he was burried here.He is a
Contractor and have spent most of his life in my
country Nigeria.
Mr. Roy Hughes were involved in a car accident along
Benin/Onitsha express road and unfortunately lost his
life on the 27th day of september,1989 at Onitsha.
Since then I have made several enquiries to the
British embassy to locate any of my friends extended
relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful hence:he
has no next-of-kin at the time of his death.

After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided
to track names related to his over the Internet, to
locate any Member of his family hence I contacted you.
I have contacted you to assist in repatriating the
assets and Capital valued at US$11.5million left
behind by my friend before it gets confiscated by the
bank where these huge deposits were lodged as treasury
bills. The said Bank in Nigeria has issued me a
notice to provide the next of Kin or have the treasury
bill confiscated. Since I have been unsuccessful in
locating any of my friend’relatives for over two
years now, I seek the consent to present you as the
Next of kin to the deceased since you have a similar
name , so that the proceeds of this treasury bill can
be paid to you. Mr.RoyJ.Hughes also has an account
with the
Midland Bank Plc,p.o.Box 19,1High Street Doncaster
South Yorkhire Dn1 1ee with account no:73154491.
Therefore, on receipt of your positive response, we
shall then
discuss the sharing ratio and modalities for claim. I
have all the necessary information and legal documents
needed to
back you up for claim including the deceased Last Used
British
International Passport. All I require from you is your
honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction
through. I guarantee that this will be executed under
a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from
anybreach of the law.

I wait to hear from you soon.
mobrack.n. villak
Best regards,