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A man in Cuba chats on his new cell phone this Friday, a foreign sight.  (Source: AP)
Cubans say hello to some new little friends.

In an interesting twist, Cuba just approved the use of cell phones, after a ban throughout long-time ruler Fidel Castro's regime.  With Fidel's departure last month and his brother, Raul Castro, assuming leadership of the island nation, some small but noteworthy changes are occurring.  First, Raul allowed microwaves, and now he is allowing cell phones.

Cuba still operates under a communist bureaucracy that controls what items people can have.  This hinders everything from internet access to home ownership.  In the past, only an elite group of Cubans owned cell phones.  Many Cubans hope that more changes are to come.  While some dissidents fear the government will use the new cell phones to snoop on them, most assume that the government already does.

Elizabeth, a middle-aged housewife told the Associated Press that she had already owned a cell phone, but had been forced to live in fear of discovery.  She said of the development, "Finally. We have waited too long for this."

The new cell phone plans will be very expensive, though, billed in more valuable convertible pesos.  Some residents like Juan Quiala, a retiree on a $10 a month government pension, remain rather cynical about the government and the state of the country in general.  Says Quiala, "I'd love one!  But how am I going to pay for it?  Suddenly, there will be a lot more people talking on the phone, but not much else will change."

In Cuba, the government controls 90 percent of the economy.  Most citizens are provided with free housing and are given ration cards to cover food needs.  Quality is often an issue, though.  Most Cubans make less than $20 a month.

Only corporate customers will be able to use internet-equipped smart phones on Cuban networks.  Cuba also is making no effort to control camera phones, despite their previous use to show oppression occurring in Tibet and Myanmar.  Of course, at the first sign of trouble, the government could easily shut the phones off.

The news of the new cell phone policy was announced Friday in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.  The Cuban government is contracting with Italy's Telecom Italia to provide services.  Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A., or ETECSA, has invested heavily in installing fiber optics across Cuba, and feels that its ready to handle Cuba's shift to modern communication.

ETECSA hopes to make enough profit to offer cell phones in normal pesos to customers in the near future.  Currently a few phone models from Nokia and Motorola are available for sale.  Phones cost as much as $280, which is a lot considering the average monthly salary of Cubans.

Cuba also announced a decree that it will finally sell PCs, DVD players, car alarms and televisions of all sizes.  These items previously only were allowed to foreigners and corporations.  Citizens are ecstatic about many of the developments.  Says Jorge Chavez, "We are progressing with the world.  Progress had to reach us, too."

While Raul Castro insisted that he will not alter Cuba's underlying communist political or economic policies, he has stated that he will try to make average Cubans' lives more bearable through modest policy changes.  He states that he understand the rough situation many Cubans live in, with much of the country living in poverty.

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Whats the point?
By shabby on 3/30/2008 6:36:05 PM , Rating: 2
If a person makes $20 a month they'll have to take out a mortgage for a cellphone plan...

RE: Whats the point?
By ImSpartacus on 3/30/2008 6:58:29 PM , Rating: 3
Better to allow than restrict.

If I had a million dollars I could buy a plane. I don't and most likely won't have a million dollars, so should it be illegal for me to be able to buy my plane?

RE: Whats the point?
By JustTom on 3/30/2008 7:38:55 PM , Rating: 3
Your analogy would work better if the Cuban government was not the one setting both the salaries of the citizens and the cost of cellphone plans.

RE: Whats the point?
By Manch on 3/30/08, Rating: -1
RE: Whats the point?
By UppityMatt on 3/30/2008 9:14:33 PM , Rating: 5
You might have missed the light on your keyboard, but your caps lock is on!

RE: Whats the point?
By Manch on 3/30/08, Rating: -1
RE: Whats the point?
By HeelyJoe on 3/30/2008 9:44:44 PM , Rating: 3
So I guess that makes you an idiot.

RE: Whats the point?
By Manch on 3/30/08, Rating: -1
RE: Whats the point?
By pomaikai on 3/31/2008 2:14:13 AM , Rating: 2
People like civilized and intellectual discusions. All caps is the equivalent to yelling which has no place in either civilized or intellectual conversasion. When either yelling takes place or use of all caps people tend to see you as someone who speaks from emotions instead of thinking things through. Same with the Ass comment.

RE: Whats the point?
By charliee on 3/31/08, Rating: 0
RE: Whats the point?
By isorfir on 3/31/2008 4:05:48 PM , Rating: 2
I don't get it charliee, what's the point of you adding these quotes from the Bible and assorted Mormon books?

RE: Whats the point?
By charlieee on 4/1/2008 4:26:18 PM , Rating: 1
Because your question seems sincere I should answer. I reply to represent the United States national motto which is: IN GOD WE TRUST. People state their beliefs and opinions on Dailytech and so will I state what that motto represents.

A longer and more extensive answer can be made available upon request.

RE: Whats the point?
By bobny1 on 3/31/2008 9:29:27 PM , Rating: 2
The Pope already tryed!. Did't worked!

RE: Whats the point?
By Malhavoc on 3/30/2008 9:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
Shame on you then!

RE: Whats the point?
By TheSpaniard on 3/30/2008 9:43:53 PM , Rating: 2
cruise control for cool!

Pizza delivery?
By chmilz on 3/30/2008 6:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
Cell phones are great, but they don't have much nutritional value to a malnourished nation.

RE: Pizza delivery?
By Tsuwamono on 3/30/2008 6:50:12 PM , Rating: 2
They have a high unemployment rate but most are self employed just like in Brazil. Most have enough money for basic goods.

RE: Pizza delivery?
By MrPoletski on 3/31/2008 3:50:03 AM , Rating: 2
I hear the silicon in the phone is quite tasty when made into chips.

By slayer12 on 3/31/2008 6:44:47 AM , Rating: 2
I lived in Cuba up until I was six, where I came to the state's thanks to the fact that my father was a political prisoner and my family was brought here indirectly by President Clinton. My thoughts on this is although this is a small step it is a step in the right direction. Though the fact still remains that Cuba lives in complete poverty, not as bad as countries such as Africa but the issue is still their. Allowing cell phones is something like a slap in the face to the average citizen since 99% of the population can not afford cellphones yet alone the rationed food and the ones who can afford this luxury already do. As horrible as this might sound I am anxious for the death of Fidel Castro maybe then Chavez will show his true colors, either he dramatically changes the government or their will most likely be a revolution.

RE: hmm...
By fifolo on 3/31/2008 10:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
I was also born in Cuba, lived until age 7, and my father also served time for "counter revolutionary activities," in his case handing out pamphlets.

What I find most heartening in this thread is that the folks here seem to be aware that Che was a mass murdering psychopath. I am disgusted when I see his face sold on college campuses, although it does serve the purpose of flagging any college student that actually wears it as a clueless, head-in-the-buttocks poser.

Clearly, whatever disagreements the good people on DT might have on policy interpretations, causes and effects, reasons and motivations, they don't seem to be taken in by the empty imagery of the Revolution.

Abour First Post
By Powered by AMD on 3/31/2008 1:19:33 PM , Rating: 2
i absolutely agree with him. You America have been blocking cuba, violating their human rights. So dont blame Cuba and their goverment for their problems caused by US.

RE: Abour First Post
By rcc on 3/31/2008 4:24:17 PM , Rating: 2
You are going to have to explain this one a little better Mr. Troll.

: )

By phxfreddy on 3/31/2008 8:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
that's liberalism / socialism / communism / democrat party for you. Cell phones more than 20 years late....Gee its only a couple of decades says B.O.

RE: dang!
By bobny1 on 3/31/2008 9:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
Knowing the Castros grandious ideas, I bet they gonna wi-fi the entire Island. Just to show the world they can do it before the yankees. Mean time, all food stores remain empty and soap and toilet paper still a luxury.."Patria o muerte".LOL

"In this country...
By drunkenmastermind on 3/30/2008 7:30:10 PM , Rating: 2
you gotta get the money, then when you got the money, you get cellphone, then you got the cellphone you get the power, then you got the power you get the women."

Timeshares for sale by 2012
By Lord 666 on 3/30/2008 8:35:53 PM , Rating: 2
This is playing out like the Communist fall of in East Berlin in 1989.

It will not be long before it becomes a new tourist mecca for US citizens and businesses as it is already for non-US people.

Where is the embargo?
By bobny1 on 3/31/2008 8:13:36 AM , Rating: 2
The Cuban Government is doing busissness with the rest of the World. Except the US. It is nice for the people to "finally have access to the technological advancess like the rest of the world". But who is going to be able to afort it whe the average doctor make an average of $20 dollars a "MONTH"...Pathetic!.

By Oakley516 on 3/30/2008 8:18:29 PM , Rating: 5
Your comment might not be sarcasm, but it sure is revisionist thinking.

By TheSpaniard on 3/30/2008 9:40:38 PM , Rating: 2
Bay of Pigs was our attempt to remove Castro from power...

By Samus on 3/31/2008 1:15:09 PM , Rating: 2
Before you blame the US for Cuba's situation over the last 50 years, don't forget why things are the way they are.

They almost started World War 3.

I know it was a long time ago, and they've changed, but they are still a very strategic strike point and we have to worry about that.

By RaulF on 3/31/2008 1:44:41 PM , Rating: 2
That was a long time ago, can you tell me why the embargo still in effect??? While we do business with China left and right, and with other oil rich governments that have worse human rights than Cuba.

By DRMichael on 3/31/2008 9:36:01 PM , Rating: 5
For starters, it has nothing to do with human rights, the Castro regime nationalized non-military U.S. assets - China did not. Secondly, and probably more importantly, the U.S. could not reward a dictator who overthrew a democracy with no consequences, especially one in its own backyard; we were in the middle of the Cold-War. And finally, the Cubans who escaped the revolution to the U.S. supported freedom and democracy along with the embargo.

By onwisconsin on 3/30/2008 8:46:02 PM , Rating: 2
Communism? IIRC, Castro turned what was supposed to be democracy into a dictatorship...and (I assume) used "communism" to keep people happy...

By Lord 666 on 3/30/2008 8:51:25 PM , Rating: 3
No, he used Communism for protection and a bargaining chip.

Communism was a little club Cuba belonged to that also included USSR as the enforcer.

By jeff834 on 3/31/2008 11:58:36 AM , Rating: 2
Communism was just a red herring! Sorry couldn't resist...

By lompocus on 3/30/2008 9:08:26 PM , Rating: 2
They're trying to escape due to the natural chaos communism does.

What I'm saying is that we had the CHOICE to prevent a communist government in Cuba, and we totally ignored the problem because Castro nationalized the industries, 90% controlled by a few US-based companies.

And I'm the most pro-US anti-eveyrone else guy on Dailytech. I don't just randomly start supporting a non-us county.

By theapparition on 3/31/2008 7:36:53 AM , Rating: 3
Still, that's a little bit of revisionist thinking.

Let me get this strait.....You wanted the US to support the overthrow of a pro US government by a known revolutionist military member labeled as a criminal by his own government?

We absolutely had no choice to prevent a communist government. The people's suffering there is thier own fault for quasi supporting thier own government, not because of the US's failed effort or inaction.

When will people stop blaming the US for the faults of others? We now see how quickly Cuba will change with Castro gone. He was the problem, and the US's support of him wouldn't have changed anything. He was a ruthless dictator, and his people suffered under his oppresive thumb. Now that he's almost dead and removed from power, Cubans will begin to come out of poverty and eventually gain freedom.

Next up for suffering, the people of Venezuela, who's leader has fashioned himself after Castro. Thankfully, Chavez couldn't eliminate term limits, and will have to step down. When that time comes, we'll see if he relinquishes power so easily. I can see a blood bath coming.

By FITCamaro on 3/31/2008 8:38:38 AM , Rating: 1
Agree with you on Chavez. I see a civil war once its time for him to step down. The man is insane and power hungry. I'm glad he cut off Exxon from oil. Means less money going to him. And I don't buy Citgo for that exact reason as well.

By Manch on 3/30/2008 9:09:27 PM , Rating: 1
The fault of the US?

So that's why they're risking their lives to flee Cuba and come to the US! It's really an invasion!

I bet the half of that cuban soccer team that disappeared are really Top Secret Cuban infiltrators.

I always thought it was to escape the oppression of a dictator, and because they want to live free.

By Pneumothorax on 3/31/2008 9:25:21 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, for some reason your post makes me think of a another exile.... (Chalabi)

By gcouriel on 3/30/2008 11:15:34 PM , Rating: 5
i can honestly say that you have absolutely NO IDEA what you are talking about.

Fidel Castro spent many years fine-tuning his "revolutionary" ideas before ever becoming the "president" of Cuba. from his speeches at the University of Havana, to the time he spent in Mexico in exile (where he met mass-murderer Che Guevara), Castro was known to harbor communist ideas. in fact, it is commonly believed that the training he received in Mexico was sponsored by KGB agents, who provided arms and training for his group of thugs.

when Castro first took control of Cuba, granted, overthrowing an equally venomous dictator supported by the U.S. government and business interests, he promissed that Cuba would have democratic elections shortly. well, in 1972, he announced that the "revolution" did not have time for elections! there have been no democratic elections in Cuba for longer than Fidel has been there, but it's time that they have them!

In Castro's first visit to the U.S. as "president" of Cuba to speak to the dis-United Nations, he was invited by President Eisenhower to the White House, as a visiting dignitary to the U.S. He declined, and instead had dinner with Nikita Kruschev. At that point, the U.S., which had been attempting to establish good diplomatic relations with Cuba up to that point, realized the problem that it had on its hands.

I'll be honest. I'm an American of Cuban parents living in Miami, Florida. I'm also an immigration attorney, who sees Cubans walk into my office on a daily basis, talking about the hell that they live with in Cuba. yes, it may be very easy to talk about how people can get their basic needs met, but it's a very different when you realize that in order to get their 1/2 lbs of meat for the week, they have to make a 2-3 hour line, and hope that when they make it to the front of the line, there's food. however, if you have family in Miami, who can send you dollars (the convertible peso), then you can buy food at another market.

where's the freedom when you have to make a 3 hour line for basic necessities? where's the freedom when you know that on every block, there's a member of the "Revolutionary Committee", who spies on the entire neighborhood, to determine who is speaking out against the government? Where's the freedom for the 100's of political prisoners currently sitting in Castro's jails for doing nothing more than speaking out for what they believe? Where's the freedom for the 10's of thousands of people that have been killed for political reasons?

you can argue until you are blue in the face that the U.S. treated Cuba poorly, but that doesn't excuse the Castro government for what it has done over the 49 years it has been in power! there's absolutely no excuse for the killing and raping of the Cuban population and culture that Fidel and his thug brother and their cronies have perpetrated.

Cuba can keep it's phones. give them freedom instead!

By lompocus on 3/30/2008 11:49:20 PM , Rating: 1
I never said I supported castro ;). At least we agree that che guerva is evil.

Castro did come back to the US for help. He did something good: nationalizing the nation's industries. However, the choice which did come out of greed for total control over s. american industries (repeated many times in S- and middle- american nations) to ignore an (eventual) request by castro for aid from the US did result in finishing total communist takeover of Cuba and resulting it what it looks like now.

Fidel sucks too, but he could have been shown in a better light had things turned out differently for Cuba's relations with the US.

By lompocus on 3/31/2008 12:45:08 AM , Rating: 1
oh, admins, I got a question: How do I get rid of the Verification thingy I need to fill out for every post I make? It's only 8 numbers/letters but it is freaking annoying.

By theapparition on 3/31/2008 7:52:58 AM , Rating: 3
In case you didn't know.....the verification thing is an attempt by the system to keep out spamers and trolls. When a users average comment rating is below 1, the system automatically prompts you to fill that out. This helps these boards stay relatively clean and why you don't see too many posts that advertise the best prescription drugs, where to get the best replica watches, and where to watch barely 18 girls get down and dirty. It also makes it a little more difficult for some that just want to scream and call everyone an idiot.

The only way to remove that is to get your average post rating up above 1.

For example, the tone of a post above calling someone "the biggest idiot on DT" will pretty much ensure you a low rating. There's other ways to prove people wrong without resulting in gutter tactics. You'll also find, that by making an argument with the facts, not only will you usually make your point better, but you'll also garner some respect (in this context, post ratings).

By lompocus on 3/31/2008 9:50:43 AM , Rating: 1
Well it must be flawed. I've got 3 posts here with 3, 1 with 4, and 1 with -1. My other posts average 0-3. The idiot thing works, btw. It shut the other person up.

By theapparition on 3/31/2008 11:55:39 AM , Rating: 3
It's your total average post rating for all your posts as a user. Clicking on your name will give you that number. It's .86 last I checked.

The idiot thing works, btw. It shut the other person up.

Did it? Or did the other person just think your not worth their time. I think its much better to have a rational debate rather than flinging personal insults.

Remember, winning an argument on the internet is like winning the special olympics, in the end.........

By lompocus on 3/31/2008 10:25:56 PM , Rating: 1
For people like Manch there's no reason to call them anything other than an idiot. Remember, he's also calling the opponent an idiot, just in a more subtle manner. I'm just very blunt with my ideas and get downrated for that (but I'm close to 1 overall).

The original person I responded to has yet to respond. I didn't call him an idiot :P.

Rational debate? Dude, I'll quote you on this: Winning an argument on the internet is like winning teh special olympics.

Unless, of course, the eventual degeneration after a period of exactly 3 posts with semi-calm ideas into a long quote-fest of hundreds of posts repeating similar arguments long lost in the exact same thread with no outcome save for teh fact that everyone is posting in all caps is a rational argument :). Under those standards a monkey can have a rational argument with you ;).

@ the mormon guy: You i=== (yes, app, i'm saying it again!) Mormon quotes, heCK, not even Catholic Holy Bible quotes belong in a friggin thread about friggin Cubans owning friggin Cellphones! Unless that is the herald to the apocalypse :). I had no idea John Smith, when he was given teh books on the Appalachian Mountains (I'm sorry but i need to lol at that story) knew cuban ownership of cell phones for all would signal the doom of us all!!! but I like you mormon guys! You guys stick to your faith, no matter what, so I censored the profanity for you :D.

On a side note, everyone still rates me down. It must be because I'm the only non-hypocritical/sane person here.

By charliee on 3/31/2008 2:50:51 PM , Rating: 1
Surely the word of the Lord shall be also be numbered among those “posts that advertise the best prescription drugs, where to get the best replica watches, and where to watch barely 18 girls get down and dirty”.

Doctrine and Covenants 122:8
The Son of Man hath descended below them all…

Mark 15:27-28
And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12
…and he was numbered with the transgressors…

By rcc on 3/31/2008 1:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
He did something good: nationalizing the nation's industries.

How exactly was this good? For anyone but Castro and co?

By FITCamaro on 3/31/2008 8:44:16 AM , Rating: 1
Miami practically is Cuba now. About the only thing keeping it a part of the US is the flag flying over city hall and that the dollar is the accepted currency instead of the peso. Why? Because of a stupid law that says once the raft hits shore they get to stay.

I hope its repealed.

By elpresidente2075 on 3/31/2008 1:32:22 PM , Rating: 3
Oh yeah, and the whole, not-under-a-dictatorship thing...
If you don't like the immigration laws in Miami, don't live in Miami. The fact that you can make that choice easily is another one of the great differences between Cuba and the U.S.

Personally, I say let them come. Unless you live on a reservation somewhere in the mid/south-west, you have no room to talk, especially if you're of Irish, German, or Polish lineage.

By elpresidente2075 on 4/1/2008 11:55:52 AM , Rating: 2
Well, in the instance of the people we are talking about, they ARE legal immigrants. Thank you for shouting at me in your ignorance.

By callmeroy on 4/1/2008 4:20:29 PM , Rating: 1
Nice try...but no.

There is no ignorance here -- *I* was talking about the state of "immigration" as a whole in this country right now.

And as far as that goes I refer you to my original point above.

By DRMichael on 3/31/2008 10:24:03 PM , Rating: 5
Please excuse their ignorance.

To anyone that has never been to South Florida:

I was born and raised in Miami and can tell you that Miami and South Florida is the economic leader in the Southeast due to the strong, intelligent, and vibrant culture of Cuban-Americans. They are quite possibly the fastest adapting immigrants to ever grace our shores. They have a strong work ethic as well as a strong moral compass.

Growing up in Miami during the 70’s and 80’s I can remember the ever present chaperone accompanying young Cuban-American ladies on their dates. While most of us boys, non-Hispanic and Hispanic, laughed at the idea, their culture instilled principles that I can now admire. Some of my best friends growing up were Cuban-Americans and they were as American as anyone from the mid-west. In fact they adapted so well that when Castro allowed an exodus from the Cuban harbor of Mariel in 1980, all the Cuban-Americans in my high-school exhibited the same xenophobia toward them that most Americans display to newly arrived immigrants; they simply didn’t want to associate with them.

So whatever your prejudices may be towards Cubans, know that they have contributed exponentially to our society within a very short time. And remember, they’re here LEGALLY. If you have a problem with that, take it up with your congressman.

By afkrotch on 3/31/2008 9:52:47 AM , Rating: 2
Then, the people who ran from cuba supported an embargo against cuba, so no longer were cuba's trade partners trading with cuba which leads to extreme poverty in Cuba.

Yes, because the US embargoing Cuba, stopped the rest of the world to stop buying products too. Oh didn't. Cuba is ranked at 114 for exports in the world.

By KristopherKubicki on 3/31/2008 11:22:11 AM , Rating: 2
Much of Castro's rise to power can be exactly traced back to the rise of organized crime in America.

But since organized crime is essentially glorified on every TV station, and all but ignored in the wake of terrorism, we don't have to worry about another Castro rising to power in loosely controlled and heavily American influenced areas of the world.

Liberia, Sierra Leone, Panama, Colombia, Argentina have no similarities with Cuba! </sarcasm?>

Maybe I'm a revisionist too.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
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