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Posted March 13, 2008 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Communist Cuba has authorized the unrestricted sale of computers, DVD and video players and other appliances in the first sign President Raul Castro is moving to improve access to consumer goods for Cubans.

“Based on the improved availability of electricity, the government at the highest level has approved the sale of some equipment which was prohibited,” said an internal government memo seen by Reuters on Thursday.

It listed computers, video and DVD players, 19-inch (48-cm) and 24-inch (61-cm) television sets, electric pressure cookers and rice cookers, electric bicycles, car alarms and microwaves that Cubans will now be allowed to buy.

Raul Castro, 76, has led Cuba since July 2006 when his older brother Fidel Castro provisionally handed over power after intestinal surgery from which he has never fully recovered.

The younger Castro formally became Cuba’s first new leader in almost half a century on February 24, and promised to ease some of the restrictions on daily life in Cuba.

“The country’s priority will be to meet the basic needs of the population, both material and spiritual,” Raul Castro said as he replaced Fidel Castro, a staunch critic of capitalist consumer society.

Last year, under Raul Castro’s provisional government, customs regulations were eased to allow Cubans to bring in some electronic equipment and car parts.

(Reporting by Marc Frank, Editing by Kieran Murray)

  1. Follow up post #1 added on March 13, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Interesting. Not sure what to make of it but it is a step in the right direction.

    Now reading between the lines…

    I expect that Cubans will have to pay $1000 or more for a computer, probably Chinese made.

    I expect that Cubans will have to apply to the Cuban government for permission to purchase a computer.

    I expect that Cubans will have to register with the Cuban government as a journalist or IT worker promising to allow access to the Cuban government thought police without notice.

    I expect Internet access to be forbidden and even having an internet browser on your computer will probably be a crime, reason for a fine or reason for confiscation.

    Conditions like these will most likely be imposed so call me cynical but I doubt this is a big event for the average Cuban.

    Prove me wrong Raul.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on March 13, 2008 by edward with 65 total posts

    Well, I’ve just told my wife who’s Cuban and I detected a small light of surprise. She didn’t exactly fall off the chair but if this is true then it’s significant.

    Another step to go with one or two other moves of late such as the releasing of a few dissidents and the possible revaluation of the peso. I can understand your cynicism but seeing this from the cuban administration’s stance I understand why they would want to step carefully.

    Let’s see what happens next.


  3. Follow up post #3 added on March 13, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Right. Allowing people to own a computer is a very dangerous thing for the Cuban government so they need to be careful.

    How sad is that?

    Cuba consulting services

  4. Follow up post #4 added on March 14, 2008 by nacho with 111 total posts

    Publisher thank you for posting this.

    As of this time 11 am GMT. I have not heard anything from the Cuban state media nor I expected anything

    I also wish Raul can prove you wrong! I expect controls with everything including internet and steep prices. At the current exchange rate, hardly any Cubans will be able to afford anything.

    It is a step and time will tell how significant it is. So far none of the so called “changes” have actually impacted the daily life of your average Cubans. Every day I get emails and text messages from Cuba saying that nothing has changed since the Castro handover.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on March 14, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    All lip service and promises. Since there is no open press to ask tough questions, we only know what they tell us (which is not necessarily reality) and what people see in the street (which is reality).

    So, I’m sure Raul will understand if I remain skeptical until I see changes in the street.

    I just posted an article about Chinese Yutong buses in operation in Havana. So, that’s reality. Can Raul take credit for that? Ummm, not really sure.

    Cuba consulting services

  6. Follow up post #6 added on March 14, 2008 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Cubans allowed to own computers…...finally.

    Still they are not freeing the access to internet and the computers are extremely expensive and likely not affordable to most Cubans.

    But at least now once they save the money they have the right to buy them.
    Lets see when the government would allow Cubans to access the internet.

    Right now on the black market a dial up internet access connection costs about 50 CUC (aprox 60 USD). Amazing and still a lot of people pay it…..

  7. Follow up post #7 added on March 15, 2008 by george bridges

    Just back from two weeks in Cuba.  At least two people in private homes had their own PC - not sure about internet connection.  My Cuban girlfriend has access to internet via local currency internet cafe in Havana and seems to have ability to access any websites I suggest to her without restriction at very cheap price, and e-mails regularly.

  8. Follow up post #8 added on March 15, 2008 by nacho with 111 total posts

    And your point is, George Bridges?
    There is/was a local currency cybercafe in capitalio but you had to wait hours to get access to one pc with slow connections. No access beyond the Cuban intranet and selected websites. Not even Hotmail! BBC website showed only the front page and many many sites were censored
    Some Cubans have PCs at home, bought in the black market . Had to keep them hidden away as well.
    Interesting to hear where your girlfriend access the web.
    Even with CUCs my brother who’s still in Cuba is not allowed access to any web cafe in Havana or Santiago when he’s tried to email me
    And regarding the price of connection. as anyone hungry from information and some kind of freedom, Cubans will pay anything to access the web

  9. Follow up post #9 added on March 16, 2008 by edward with 65 total posts

    That’s right…

    I know people who have had home PC’s for a while. They didn’t have access to the web though. You’re right about that web cafe, when my wife wanted to use it we had to wait about 45 minutes…this was a reasonable length of time to wait apparently.

    For me to keep updated about the football (sad) we frequented the Nacional, where we could both use the web. However that option is not open to most cubans…I really do hope that things start opening up, freedom of information and affordable information would be a leap forward.

  10. Follow up post #10 added on April 20, 2009 by lara

    why you people are treated like this you are given little amount of thing likr food

  11. Follow up post #11 added on April 22, 2009 by havanafun with 15 total posts

    even they can buy a computer,a mobile or to rent a car all Cubans they still have to find 1000 cuc for the pc,or 150 cuc for a mobile or 200 cuc for deposit for the rent car and 50 cuc per day for rent the car.
    So with the same view i have to find 100,000 euros to buy a ferrari in my country.
    its the same thing
    only the numbers are different

  12. Follow up post #12 added on April 22, 2009 by grant

    Cubans have had computers for many years but the government stores did not sell them, over 1.4 million users in Cuba today. See CIA factbook.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on April 22, 2009 by havanafun with 15 total posts

    CIA says boolshit
    if have been in 100 houses in havana and only 5-7 haved computer
    i dont speak about miramar or kohly
    and out of havana in villages and small towns i am interresting very much if they can even imagine how is a computer
    maybe they have see one in one photo

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