That's Progress 2: Cubans Can Own Cell Phones

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 3/30/2008 12:56:00 AM
Whoa, Cuba's new Maximum Leader Raul Castro is making all sorts of socioeconomic advances that would fill the heart of a Taliban mullah with rage. After lifting a ban on owning DVD players and assorted gringo consumerist filth, the Cuban authorities are now in the process of allowing ordinary citizens the privilege of wielding cell phones. Who knows what will follow this consumerist revolucion. From the Guardian:

The Cuban president, Raúl Castro, today lifted restrictions on ownership of mobile phones. Castro's move was another indication that he is prepared to grant more freedom to the island's residents. The right to own mobile phones had been restricted to the employees of foreign firms or those holding key posts in the communist-run state.

Some Cubans had evaded the ban by asking foreigners to sign contracts in their names, but mobile phones remain relatively uncommon in Cuba compared with the rest of the world.
Castro - who formally assumed power from his brother, Fidel, in February – promised in his inaugural speech to ease some of the restrictions on daily life within weeks. He pledged "structural changes" and "big decisions" in the near future.

An internal memo, leaked to Reuters earlier this month, suggested Castro intended to lift restrictions on the ownership of electrical appliances including DVD players and computers, although no mention was made of mobile phones.

Last week, the Cuban government lifted its ban on farmers buying their own supplies in an attempt to improve agricultural production. All supplies had been previously been assigned by the central government, but small-scale farmers on some parts of the island are now permitted to buy such items as seeds, fertiliser and clothing equipment from state stores.

Such changes have been viewed as evidence that Castro is prepared to make concessions to residents, albeit in the context of a one-party state. Days after Castro was sworn in as president, Cuba signed two legally-binding human rights agreements, forming part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at the UN in New York.

He has also held talks with the Vatican's leading diplomat, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is seen as a potential emissary between the US and Cuba.