Cuba Citizens Can Now Buy Computers, But No Internet Access

Illustration for article titled Cuba Citizens Can Now Buy Computers, But No Internet Access

Things are looking up for the citizens of Cuba, who—after getting the "right" to buy cellphones, microwaves, and other electronic goods— can now legally own home computers for the first time. Good news for poor Cubans, who are still living under the bloody tyranny of the Castro Bros. and the destructive U.S. blockade. The catch: still no access to the Internet (not to mention most basic Human Rights.)

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On Friday, a Havana shopping mall began selling QTECH PCs, a tower-style desktop running Windows XP with 80GB of memory, 512 MB RAM and Intel Celeron processors (how US-made Intel processors can get into the island is still not clear.) At roughly $800 for an entire package including a CRT monitor and keyboard/mouse, the QTECH is out of reach for most of Cuba's residents, who earn an average of $20 a month.

Internet access will remain restricted to certain workplaces, schools and universities on the Island. The government has argued that the net would be more widely available if Cuba wasn't blocked from connecting to undersea cables because of the embargo. But considering their Internet policies include allowing email addresses only for "trusted" journalists, their media is state-controlled, and the little fact that there's no such thing as "freedom of expression" over there, the embargo excuse sounds more like another cheap attempt to keep tight control of the people on the island. [BBC]

DISCUSSION

DavidLomax
DavidLomax

@GadgetPlay: I'd consider the sources on some of those references really carefully. I've heard of this "Google" of which you speak, but I'd caution you against using it without a good dose of critical thinking. I mean, did you even read the results you're linking to? Two of them are the same article. The main source in the frontpagemag article (and thus the realdebatewisconsin aticle) is the Fraser Institute, a right-wing think-tank funded by those who would like nothing more than to open up the Canadian system for their own profit. Some of the so-called facts in that article are just plain false. Just because it's written down with a banner over it doesn't make it true.

The one about the US clinic setting up shop in Canada is interesting (though a year-and-a-half out of date). It highlights a difference between the Canadian and US systems. The whole point of the Cleveland Clinic's attempted incursion is to convince rich people that if they go to the States they will get faster care, that their money in other words will get them to the front of the queue. That's such a difference that they had to set up that "clinic" (basically just a glorified referral and marketing scheme) in order to educate rich Canadians on their options. Because it's true. Our wait-times are longer. Not as much longer as you might have been led to believe, but, yes, longer than those with the top-tier insurance might have to deal with in the US. Our system is a one-tier system. Everybody has to wait the same amount of time. I like it that way. When it's that way, the rich people, and even the middle class, have a vested interest in making those wait times as short as they can be.

Think about policing or fire services. Would you want those to be privatized, so that those who paid the most could get their 911 calls answered quicker? It would work if you had money. The fire trucks, not bothered with all those tenement fires, could be stationed closer to the homes of the rich so that they could get there quicker.

I'm not saying the Canadian health care system works perfectly, but it works pretty much the same way for everyone. Our waiting lists may be longer, but at least we all have the right to be on them.

Last word? The WHO ranks the Canadian system 30th in the world, and the US 37th. The US, on the other hand, pays the most per capita. According to the rich drug companies, that cost is because of all the research they do. Whether you believe them or not, you don't seem to be getting value for your money. (That last, by the way, was from a 2000 study, quoted in an interesting Wikipedia article on the Canadian health care system. This has been fun, and got me reading some stuff I wouldn't have otherwise. Hope you had fun too.)