Can You Hear Me Now?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

A Cuban man takes pictures with his new cell phone in Havana.

hide captionA Cuban man takes pictures with his new cell phone in Havana.

Source: Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images

Cubans can now chat on cell phones thanks to their new president, Raul Castro, who recently lifted the ban on consumer cell phones. That means they get to join the ranks of all those frustrated over dropped calls, roaming charges, and annoying ring tones. The one obvious hiccup in this new perk, however, is the cost — it costs about $120 to activate a cell phone in Cuba, which is about half a year's salary for many people there. But, evidently, that hasn't stopped people from lining up around the block to purchase them.

And this isn't the only change Cuba has seen recently. DVD players and pressure cookers are more widely available, unused land is now open to private farmers, and wealthy Cubans are now permitted to rent cars and vacation at luxury hotels. Julia Sweig, a Senior Fellow and Director of Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, will join us to take questions about the changes going on in Cuba. So if you've got one, leave it here.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

You mention that cell phones currently cost about half of a person's yearly salary. I was wondering if these changes under Raul are expected to increase salaries as jobs become available in new industries, whether sales or production.

Sent by Jeremy Dale Heisey | 2:36 PM | 4-16-2008

From what I have seen on the Univision news, cell phones in Cuba seem to be analog antiques from the mid-'90s. Is this true, or was the video I saw 'file footage' of old Motorola analog 'flip phones'? They certainly did not look like modern-day GSM or CDMA phones.

Sent by David Stead | 3:43 PM | 4-16-2008

Support comes from: