Can You Hear Me Now?

You gotta love this guy.
Mr. Pragmatic is certainly proving to be pragmatic at making a buck and squeezing blood from a stone. And he said they weren’t magicians.
In the latest “trick” announced by the Cuban regime to better the lives of the long suffering Cubans, it has decided to allow Cubans to have access to cell phones.
That’s just what a captive, hungry and practically homeless audience needs. Cell Phones. Maybe they can now call Miami for some take out.
From the Sun Sentinel’s Ray Sanchez:

Ordinary Cubans will be allowed to buy cell phone service for the first time, Cuba’s phone company announced Friday.
The announcement, which came in a six-paragraph company statement published in the state press, was the latest in a string of modest changes introduced since Raul Castro took formally took over the presidency last month from ailing brother Fidel.
There were few details but the ETECSA statement said that within days it would inform the public about changes in cell phone ownership and service contracts.

So far in raul’s magic show, the promised changes that have materialized have been mostly cosmetic and meaningless in improving the living conditions of the long suffering Cubans while food and freedom continue to disappear. They do however, manage to garner a lot of press coverage and create the illusion for foreign observers that things are indeed changing.
The changes are also clever slight of hand tricks to separate Cubans from what little hard currency they may have and to get their relatives abroad to send some more.

…Cell phone service would involve prepaid cards and be paid for in hard currency, the statement said…
Some like the magic trick, but are questioning the admission price:
…”I could use a cell phone,” said Rodrigo Junco, 58, when informed about the change in cell phone ownership. “Whether I can afford one is a different story. But any change at this point is welcome.”…

Read Sanchez’s report here.

7 thoughts on “Can You Hear Me Now?”

  1. Gusano,
    The political prisoners are still in prison. There is still only one party which controls all media, etc.
    But, aren’t these small changes a good thing? Yes, some are mere window dressing that won’t benefit el cubano de a pie. But, what if they allow access to all hotels and beaches? Isn’t that one of the things we have bitterly complained about? One single currency, isn’t that important and significant? What about the decision to allow small farmers to plant what they want and sell it at “market” prices? Isn’t that going to improve the lives of ordinary cubans (if actually carried out)? What about the decision to do away with exit permits? Isn’t that also a step in the right direction?
    I understand your frutration, which I share, that “the wall has not come tumbling down in one swift move” as it did in Berlin. But short of the whole system crashing at once, aren’t these small steps, which I believe Raul has been forced to implement, a good thing for ordinary cubans?

  2. The worst part of all this is that people are going to believe that change is really coming. PEOPLE DON’T BE FOOLED BY THIS. Cubans earn $15 a month, and the government wants to charge more than that for all these services that are now being provided by the government.

  3. CNN is running the story with a ficture of a smiling Raul. One thing crossed by ever doubting mind. Perhaps many of these items are being allowed to get Cuban Americans to send more money?
    It makes sense. Cuba needs money, they offer items people cannot afford, idiots who send money for frivilous items ( I am not against genuine humanitarian aid), and castro gets the last laugh as he looks like a reformer and gets more money from the US.

  4. LG:
    No. I find little to be optimistic about with these announced and rumored changes. Raul is running a company store. He pays Cubans in monopoly money and then sells them goodies in real money (that they can only get from foreigners, relatives, employers, tourists, etc.) at prices that he sets. All these mobsters are doing is muscling in on the black market because the “informal economy” as they call it, grew, by their own account, 4% last year and it was starting to skim too much of their potential profits. So they “formalize” what was “informal” to force people to buy from the company store so they can have 4% more control of their lives. But that just me, I’m a cynic. They mass produce cynics in castrolandia. The only positive I see is that, as you say, raul backed himself into a corner when he created the expectation that changes were coming … these “window dressings” allow him to kick the can down the road and give cover to the foreign investors a little more time … at least till the funeral :).

  5. My First Reaction – Who Cares – Raul Could allow Cubans to Own Lamborghinis and Ferarris – which nobody could afford. With Cell Phones However, I wonder, could CUBA spec. phones without GPS be smuggled to the island? Inquiring minds would love to know. -S-

  6. On the light side….just for a minute then back to our purpose.
    I told a fairly new arrival from Cuba about the cell phone program. He said…”12 million Cubans talking together on cell phone maybe big problem” everyone laughed till tears were pouring out.
    Now back to fighting the good fight.

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