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Daisy Valera: Until the middle of 2010, I was a university student. Today, at 22, I’m a graduate in nuclear chemistry and have joined the ranks of the Cuban work force. I love the cinema, books and architecture – even of the collapsing buildings. I like doing craftwork using thread, stone and metal. I fear monotony and I’m committed to the aim of building a better society.

So Now We Have Internet Access in Cuba?

May 21, 2012 | Print Print |

Daisy Valera 

The building of the Ministry of Finances and Prices.

HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago I came across “Resolution 146-2012” of the Ministry of Finances and Prices.

It establishes the rate for Internet connections for Cubans at 6 CUC (about $6.50 USD an hour) and 1.50 CUC ($1.65 USD an hour) for international e-mail. Friends tell me that this was the news item of the day.

Reading the document, the first surprise appeared under the “whereas” that states:

On the suggestion of the Ministry of Informatics and Telecommunications, it was decided to establish the public rates in hard currency Cuban pesos (CUC) for Internet and international e-mail access.

I point to this to highlight two things:

- The government does not recognize the pressure that has been exercised by Cuba’s incipient civil society to achieve access to this service.

- The hard currency CUC is a currency that isn’t commonly paid to workers.

If we do a little math, a moderate two hours a day on the Internet for 30 days in a month would cost 360 CUCs.

Though two hours a day is not all that much, 360 CUCs is an unthinkable amount of money for many people on the island – it’s much more than a year’s wage for the average professional.

One can check their mail and download messages on a machine in five minutes to save on connection time. Then one can write their responses and reconnect to send them. For this reason, the new e-mail rate seems more promising.

Still, the concise ministry document generates more questions than hopes:

-  Who in Cuba are able to pay those high prices?

-  What situation justifies keeping those rates in the clouds?

-  Will an error message appear if I’m interested in reading certain blogs or Havana Times?

-  How much privacy does the state guarantee with this service? The same as for cellphones?

Faced with this lack of answers, all we have left is to wait and continue using under the table accounts that have lower cost (1 CUC per hour).

Although it’s undeniable that the new service will radically modify the way Cubans access information, there’s a long road to travel for Internet access not to become the privilege of a few.

Here is the original resoultion in Spanish:

RESOLUCION No.146/2012

clip_image002Ministerio de Finanzas y Precios

RESOLUCION No.146/2012

POR CUANTO: Mediante el Acuerdo No. 3944, de fecha 19 de marzo de 2001, del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo de Ministros, fueron aprobados con carácter provisional, hasta tanto sea adoptada la nueva legislación sobre la organización de la Administración Central del Estado, el objetivo y las funciones y atribuciones específicas de este Ministerio, entre las que se encuentra, lo establecido en el apartado Segundo, numeral 23, de dirigir y controlar la labor de formación, fijación y modificación de los precios y tarifas.

POR CUANTO: A propuesta del Ministerio de la Informática y las Comunicaciones, se ha decidido, establecer las tarifas a la población, en pesos cubanos convertibles (CUC), para los servicios de Acceso a Internet y Correo Electrónico Internacional, así como la aplicación de las tarifas para los referidos servicios en las instalaciones hoteleras.

POR TANTO: En ejercicio de las facultades que me están conferidas en el apartado Tercero, numeral Cuarto del Acuerdo No. 2817, de fecha 25 de noviembre de 1994, del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo de Ministros,

RESUELVO:

PRIMERO: Establecer las tarifas a la población, en pesos cubanos convertibles (CUC), para los servicios de Acceso a Internet y Correo Electrónico Internacional, según se detalla en el Anexo Único, que consta de una (1) página y se anexa a la presente Resolución, formando parte integrante de la misma.

SEGUNDO: Las tarifas relacionadas en el Anexo Único de la presente Resolución, podrán aplicarse con carácter de mínimas, cuando se brinden los servicios en instalaciones hoteleras a usuarios no huéspedes de los hoteles.

TERCERO: Las tarifas que se aplican a los usuarios huéspedes de las instalaciones hoteleras, se forman por las Instituciones a las que se subordinan los hoteles, a partir de acuerdos que establecerán con la Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S. A (ETECSA).

PUBLÍQUESE, en la Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba.

ARCHÍVESE el original en la Dirección Jurídica de este Ministerio.

Dada en La Habana, a los 27 días del mes de abril de 2012.

Lina O. Pedraza Rodríguez
Ministra

TARIFAS DE SERVICIOS A LA POBLACIÓN
DESCRIPCIÓN DEL SERVICIO
TARIFA POR HORA

Acceso a Internet 6.00 CUC

Correo Electrónico Internacional 1.50 CUC


What's your opinion?

  • Moses

    In order to compete with the nearby Starbucks, my neighborhood coffee shop began offering free wi-fi six years ago. The T1 fiber optic trunk line for this little coffee shop provides download speeds 6,000 faster than the dial-up speed in Cuba and its free. Of course, they prefer it if you buy a cup of coffee. The contrasts between Cuba and the outside world are mind-boggling sometimes. Does anyone know why the Venezuelan cable is still not available to the Cuban public?

    • alfin

      I LIVE IN canada where use of long distance phones are ridiculously expensive. dont you, sir, compare apples and oranges. in cuba for one cuc i can buy and enjoy 25 to 35 mangoes. in toronto i pay one dollar for a green, unripened and inedible mango. so finally cubans have all that hot, free sunshine for which i must pay one thousand dollars for a 7 day vacation in the sun. reality time moses.

      • Moses

        I see your point. Well then, you go live in a world of cheap mangos and free sunshine. I prefer my 5 megabits per second internet and when I need a break from civilization, I will come visit you. Funny how, the balseros are leaving Cuba every day and not the other way around though? That’s reality Alfin.

        • alfin

          the reality is occupy new york and other worldwide uprisings are about the failure of capitalism to include the disabled, disenfranchised. capitalism has failed in south amerika; and does little to millions of indians and chinese. Go visit both countries and see for yourself.
          need to say nothing more to the oppressors of the world.
          please, give me a hand………………..

  • Freud

    Most countries in the world see internet as something absolutely necessary for the country’s economical develop and population intellectual develop. Most children in the world can’t imagine school, learning and homework without internet…….. but castro regime see internet as a threat, as something that must be limited, forbidden, dangerous…….. the reason is simple…….. internet contains all needed information to dismantle its huge 53 years long misinformation campaign on Cubans and make Cubans aware about millions of lies this regime made them believe……. lies like:

    - Cuban Health and Educational system was created by castro regime and not by democracy before castro-batista regime
    - Now Cubans has better live standard than before castro regime
    - Batista was pro USA
    - US blockade is the cause of hunger in Cuba, economical destruction, housing deficit, physical destruction and every single disaster caused by 53 years of a personal and insane regime
    - Prostitution before castro was huge
    - Americans owned pre castro Cuba
    - All other Latin American countries are poor and does not have free health and education
    - All people asking changes in Cuba are enemies paid by USA or terrorists
    - And thousands more lies we all know Cubans were packed with

    • nobody0

      You are sure the Cubans are packed with lies? Maybe you lived there during cold war, you should update yourself, maybe using the internet?

      Internet is more dangerous due to the spreading of certain things and following demonstrations, like last year in Africa. Btw. Venezuela has its fast internet, and nothing happens. USA has it, and nothing happens, only more people go to demonstration.

      + Internet would give the Cubans the power to denounce corrupt functionaries and party members.
      - Would enable the good and brave Miami old guards to spread some lies like you do.

      • Freud

        Writing personal offenses makes you look empty of arguments and reasons.

    • alfin

      i agree with all your points. what do americans pay for a brain transplant?
      i was in an emergency ward of a guantanamo hospital, as a tourist. it cost me zilch, nada, nothing. god bless the cuban socialist health model. like canada — free and effective and efficient. canada needs to bring in more cuban doctors. i have observed cuban professionals here, doing good work like they do in their own communities.

      • Freud

        You can have same service also at no cost in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Jamaica, Trinidad-Tobago, St Lucie, Grenada, Bahamas, Martinique, St Nevis, USA, Canada…….. and many other countries in the world that like the above named don’t suffer dictatorships for 53 years and did not got its economies destroyed by some incompetent dictators.

  • Justin

    The positives of the internet easily out weigh the negatives. Propoganda is only effective if you are able to limit what someone sees.

    An example of this would be what is going on in Syria. These people are trying to tell the world what is going on inside by posting videos on the internet. However, since the Syrian government is not allowing the media into the country there is no way to cross check the information, so nobody knows who is telling the truth.

    Having access to the internet would give Cubans the ability to cross check the information they get. In the USA almost everyone now has a smart phone with internet access…if someone tells you it’s going to rain today, then you check it on your phone. If someone tells you that Canada is invading, you check it on your phone…

    • Moses

      Justin, I agree completely. I would like to make a very fine point on your post however. Not only does the internet allow one to verify “official” information, but more importantly, it allows one to weigh different opinions about whether or not it will rain. Then one can make up one’s own mind about whether or not to carry an umbrella. Cubans are forced to accept the Granma version of the world or blindly imagine what else might truly be. Imagine a world where Cubans could read the New York Times and the Al Jazeera version of what is going on in Syria as well. Then, if they still want to go with the Granma version (not likely) at least it was an informed decision.

  • john sparre

    I agree with most of freud´s comments about the internet. the countries with the best internet have the fastest growing economies.

  • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

    What a pleasure, Daisy, to see your beautiful smile once again in HT .

    Almost two decades ago in the US they used to charge by the hour for internet use. People would work speedily to keep their charges small. Then AOL (America On Line) decided to let people subscribe by the month for a relatively small fee. Subscriptions exploded, and AOL became an ultra-profitable giant overnight.

    Perhaps the Cuban government will learn of this ancient history of profitability and open up internet service on the same monthly basis. Cheers.

    • Moses

      Grady, that suggestion presupposes that subscriptions will pay for the expanse of the internet. Using the AOL example, we know that is indeed not the case. That is why they are no longer a major player. Advertisers pay for the internet. Since the regime is stuck in the idiotic idea that that commercialism is bad, they are forced to subsidize whatever infrastructure costs out of state revenues. As long that is the case, Cubans will be stuck in the paleontonic age of computers.

  • Lawrence W

    I’ve just returned to Canada after spending two months in Cuba. I am totally addicted to the internet as a tool for research and for access to information. I have used it from the beginning of its existence and in out of the way places – on land and at sea, using typewriter terminals and computers, dialup and shortwave radio transmissions – when text mail was all that was available.

    In Cuba, I was only frustrated by the limited access that was available – limited locations that were only available erratically. I was able to readily adapt to slower speeds and older equipment as long as I could access the system on a regular basis.

    I resorted to using a SatPhone for email and retrieval of text from web pages using a service that accesses a web page you specify and returning its contents in text form. You don’t really need the images and fancy formatting when you are primarily interested in using the net for information retrieval.

    Cuba routinely relies on intelligent and ingenious solutions to address shortages of resources – like bicycles and horsepower, relying on ‘biofuel’ (grazing) to save on fuel. In this, they have become leaders in addressing what the rest of the world is increasingly facing – adjusting to diminishing supplies of non-renewable resources.

    Rather than pouring resources into increasing expensive band width, why isn’t Cuba working to make the net available and affordable for all of its citizens? It is difficult not to come to the conclusion that the government is happy curtailing access to information. ALL governments are happy controlling the story, of course. It must, however, be recognised that what is available on the net is mostly controlled by governments and business interests. It requires judgement and perspective to use the web wisely. Rather than protect citizens from disinformation by curtailing access, it would be wiser to promote education programs that taught principles of critical analysis.

    Having access to hi-speed internet is fine as long as the price to pay for it is not at the expense of universal access. But then, this is true of all technology. One must consider its price. Native North Americans desired the metal tools the invaders brought, but they were able to do without them for 10,000 years. The price they paid to have them – but they were not offered a choice – in many cases was total genocide. Something to think about.

  • http://hugi1959uk@yahoo.co.uk Hubert Gieschen

    Two days ago, at a fringe meeting at my union conference I had the opportunity to ask Her Excellency The Cuban ambassador to the UK, Esther Armenteros Cardenas what was happening to the fibre optic cable linking Venezuela and Cuba. She did not respond to my suggestion that corruption might play a role. She said she did not know what was happening to the cable. She was, however, aware of recent reports in the British press about it. (Google for ‘The Guardian’ and ‘Cuba and the case of the missing fibre-optic cable’). She took my email address and promised to get back to me. She shook hands with me and now I am waiting. Should I hear anything I will let Circles know.

    • Luis

      The Guardian article ‘misses’ some information. As an electrical engineer, I find the lack of information offensive to the reader. The ALBA-1 was only a first step. In order for end-users to have the bandwidth it provides, a fiber-optic network needs to be implemented as a backbone through the whole island. Not to mention countless fiber/copper and fiber/cable converters to implement metropolitan networks. Does that exist in Cuba? AP didn’t care to do its homework and said nothing.

  • john sparre

    Poor Indian children get free Internet. this is so that they will be economically useful when they are older. australia is spending about $40 billion on broadband to catch up with the countries that are making huge amounts of money from the internet. japan, south korea and china. at present, cubans with internet access can monopolize imports with orders on websites like made-in-china.com also, without internet access, how can cubans know what is going on in the rest of the world. for example, cubans have been looking for an economic model in china and vietnam. both countries are successful because of size. both countries are export oriented. cuba doesn’t have the population of vietnam. there are other models. the austalian and new zealand model is the chile model too. pinochet’s economic policies were disastrous. the chicago boys neo-liberalism which seems to be the direction cuba is going and china and vietnam have already gone this route. what is really important is export orientation. chile, along with other nearby countries, has expanded agriculture and horticulture for airfreight, expanded beef and dairy, expanded fish farms and expanded backpacker hostels over the last 23 years since pinochet left the presidency. the result has been that the shops in santiago resemble paris in the range and price of products. i believe that 5 million backpacker tourists a year is a reasonable and achievable ambition and if they spent $3,000 each that is $15 billion and that would soon be the end of cuban international credit problems. .