Dove Magazine

The Internet Comes to Cuba … Slowly

In Cuba, friends must be face to face to have a conversation. This is not a matter of courtesy, but because the Internet and other forms of modern communication are still a luxury on the island.

Although almost everyone has a smartphone, ironically, the devices can only be used to receive and make phone calls. There is no accessing social media, no texting, no sending email.

Internet access on mobile devices is limited to a few public parks. Having it in the comfort of one’s home is still only a dream. Except for a small elite — mostly senior government officials — no one has Internet at home.

Getting connected with the Internet begins in small shops called Center Agent Telecommunications. There, vendors who have government authorization sell small pieces of paper, the size of a matchbox, containing Internet passwords.

Each piece costs 2.50 CUC Convertible Pesos, one of the two currencies circulating in Cuba. Each CUC equals about 90 cents.

But that piece of paper is still nothing more than paper if it is not combined with a semi-open Internet connection, located in some parks and a handful of hotels.

In the Park Beach Township 30, for example, about 15 minutes from downtown Havana, hundreds of Cubans come day and night in search of Internet access. Recently, about 50 people were there, each holding a phone, chatting with friends or family abroad or catching up on social networks.

At about $3 an hour, the price for Internet access is still too expensive for many middle-class Cubans, who earn about $30 a month.

‘Charm’ for some

However, John said that limited access to the Internet has its good side.

“Here, people still gather to talk,” he said. “They go to a friend’s house to ask him out. They have not lost that human contact we, particularly young people, have already lost. It has its charm. ”

But for young people like 17-year-old Yaxon, the “charm” would be to have Internet on your mobile phone — or at home.

“That would be a dream,” he said.

At least for now, that dream still seems distant. – VOA NEWS –

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