Starting today, Cubans can buy computers, DVDs, other electronics
Ray Sanchez | Direct from Havana
7:04 AM EDT, April 1, 2008
Cubans shops began selling computers, DVD players and other consumer
electronics this morning. But it remained to be seen whether people
living on state salaries of about $20 a month will be able to afford them.
Resolution No. 43/08, which allows the purchase of electonics, was first
of three reforms Raul Castro's government quietly unveiled in efforts to
liberalize internal restrictions on the island's 11 million inhabitants.
The first to go into effect, however, opened tourist hotels to Cubans
for the first time in more than a decade. The hard currency hotels were
formerly reserved exclusively for foreigners and certain Cubans, a
controversial practice that gave rise to the charge of tourism apartheid
against the communist government. The ban on hotels and car rentals was
lifted at midnight Monday.
Starting April 14, Cubans will be able to buy cell phones and open
service contracts in their names. The cost of activating a cell phone
line will be $120. Rates will be the same as those for businesses and
foreigners – the only ones allowed cell phone access now.
Many Cubans obtained cell phone lines in the name of foreigners. They
will now be able to switch over service in their own names.