Cubans Can Buy Electronics April 1
But Who Has the Money to Buy Them?
Ray Sanchez | Direct from Havana
7:30 AM EDT, March 26, 2008
Havana , Cuba
Of all the restrictions on the lives of Cubans, at least one will be
officially lifted Tuesday — the ban on the sale of some domestic
Resolution 43/08 of the Interior Commerce Ministry permits the sale of
computers, video-playing equipment, television sets, electric pressure
cookers, rice cookers and even car alarms to the general public for the
first time since the 1990s.
The reason for the change? "The country has had an improvement in the
generation and distribution of electric power," according to a
government document circulated among foreign journalists
The move represents a modest reform by Raul Castro, who formally took
over the presidency from his ailing brother Fidel last month.
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In an irony of daily life on the island, as computers and accessories
were set to hit store shelves, the author of a highly critical blog,
Generacion Y, said the state appears to have limited access to her site
from within the island. A few other Web sites also were affected.
The availability of the electronics will be "gradual," the document
said, adding that stores must ensure that devices meet state
The manager of one of the capital's largest shopping centers said it
could take at least one month before the devices start appearing in
stores. Until now, only companies were allowed to purchase the items.
With state workers earning an average of 408 pesos a month, about $17,
retail outlets are not expecting a mad rush.
"Now the struggle becomes one of earning higher salaries," said Oscar
Espinosa Chepe, a dissident economist.
Panama's new ambassador in Cuba, Luis Gomez, told reporters that two
shipping companies hauling electronics to Cuba twice a week are now
carrying four times the usual number of containers.
When Raul Castro delivered his acceptance speech as president before the
National Assembly last month, he vowed that "within weeks" some of the
restrictions on the lives of Cubans would begin to fall.