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Jorge Milanes: My name is Jorge Milanes Despaigne, and I’m a tourism promoter and public relations specialist. Forty-five years ago I was born in Cojimar, a small coastal town to the east of Havana. I very much enjoy trips and adventure; and now that I know a good bit about my own country, I’d like to learn more about other nations. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, haute cuisine and talking with interesting people who offer wisdom and happiness.

Cuba’s Outrageous Cell Phone Offers

April 29, 2014 | Print Print |

Jorge Milanes

EtecsaHAVANA TIMES — The promotional message which ETECSA (Cuba’s monopoly telephone company) sent to mobile users recently illustrates why I don’t own a cell phone. The message read, verbatim: “If you add 20 CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) of credit to your line from April 15 to 19, you will receive 40 CUC of credit.”

The offer is valid only if you purchase a 20 CUC prepaid card.

I got very upset when my brother read me the message. Why? Because there are people who don’t have a land line at home and use mobile phones, making great sacrifices to pay for their lines.

The offer may be tempting for those who can pay such a sum of money, in a country where salaries are paid in a currency that, though just as Cuban as the other, is different from the one mentioned in the message, where the monthly salary of the average worker is shy of 20 CUC.

I am left to wonder what ETECSA’s intentions could be with this deal. Can any Cuban worker actually benefit from it? Who is the offer aimed at?

I don’t think any of this is hard to understand, even when it comes disguised with good intentions. If you only have 5, 7 or even 10 CUC, you don’t qualify – it’s only for those who have 20 CUC they can spend.

Photo: Caridad

It’s that easy.

Mobile phones, as we know, have ceased to be luxury and become a necessity in many parts of the world. When one has a look at ETECSA’s offer, one realizes that, in Cuba, it is still a luxury – at least for us workers, who have no real options.

Many working mothers who need to be in touch with their children, at school, at a hospital or anywhere, cannot benefit from this offer. Nor can the elderly who don’t have landlines at home and use mobile phones.

I don’t understand why the minimum purchase for these offers has to be so high. They seem to be designed for Cuba’s rich. Can’t the company analyze the situation and make more affordable offers which needn’t double the credit amount?

This would be very good for the majority, which does not have that kind of money and would be able to enjoy some of the advantages of having more phone credit.


What's your opinion?

  • Sue MacLeod

    Could you please tell me how much a text message costs to send and receive in
    Cuba? Is it the same price to receive if it is from a different country? And to send to a different country? I have asked this question of others, but have never gotten an answer here in Canada. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question. Susan

    • CUBALIBRE

      1 CUC for long distance(Cuba to Canada) and I believe its 10-20cents with in Cuba, forgot? :-)… Nothing for them to receive a text from long distance#. I am in Canada, Canadian, always like to answer questions about Cuba if I can..

      • Sue MacLeod

        I really appreciate your information. Thank you very much. I may be back to you again with other questions. Thanks again

  • JennyC

    I wholeheartedly agree, Jorge! The minimum should also be lowered for people living “offshore” who want to help friends/family living in Cuba by adding credit to their cell phone accounts.

  • CUBALIBRE

    This targets people living outside Cuba, supporting family and so on…