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Cuba Lifts Ban on Home Computers 290

ianare writes "The first legalized home computers have gone on sale in Cuba, the latest in a series of restrictions on daily life which President Raul Castro has lifted in recent weeks. The desktop computers cost almost $800, in a country where the average wage is under $20 a month, but some Cubans do have access to extra income. Internet access remains restricted to certain workplaces, schools and universities on the island which the government claims is due to low bandwidth availability. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is laying a new cable under the Caribbean, but it remains unclear whether once the connection is completed, the authorities will allow unrestricted access to the internet."
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Cuba Lifts Ban on Home Computers

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  • This is not news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by isilrion ( 814117 ) on Saturday May 03, 2008 @09:31AM (#23283750)
    I'm a Cuban. This happened more than a month ago. And we are very happy that someone finally came to his senses about it.

    What's new, though, is that [startin soon], they are going to be sold without operating systems... No more windows pre-installed. Or so I've heard. Now we only need tons of Ubuntu disks to give away at the sotre.

  • by mrbluze ( 1034940 ) on Saturday May 03, 2008 @09:35AM (#23283778) Journal

    No more windows pre-installed. Or so I've heard. Now we only need tons of Ubuntu disks to give away at the sotre.
    Wow, talk about being behind and ahead at the same time! Do they have a ban on the eeepc and other less-than-$800 computers? And any way it doesn't have to be $800 - surely there is a market for importing old hardware?
  • by stm2 ( 141831 ) <sbassi AT genesdigitales DOT com> on Saturday May 03, 2008 @09:36AM (#23283784) Homepage Journal
    According to Cuban supporters, there is no restriction to visit websites, the real problem is that the whole country have a very limited bandwidth so most pages doesn't load at all. And this limitation is thanks to the US who put a ban on export of goods and services to Cuba.
    The main problem I see is that they are using mostly unlicensed copy of windows, since Windows licenses can't be acquired in Cuba.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2008 @09:57AM (#23283910)
    No, what it's going to happen is that Caritas and other organizations that care about people will be finally able to bring used computers from non-communist, developed countries to Cuba, for little to no price (just to be stolen and sold as soon as they arrive to the country, as happens with every single truck that goes to Africa).
  • by c_forq ( 924234 ) <> on Saturday May 03, 2008 @10:40AM (#23284126)
    I hope you aren't basing this off of that Michael Moore movie. Cuba actually has two tiers of medical service, because they engage in a recent market called "medical tourism". Their facilities and services for foreigners is among the best in the world, however their service for civilians has no better system than Canada but far worse service due to only having a fraction of the resources other places have.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2008 @10:46AM (#23284172)
    Thank you for your insight, Anonymous. Without the trade embargo, certainly there would have been computers in Cuba before this (most tech companies here have way more than enough money to bribe a Castro or two).

    So it's an interesting question whether the embargo is a good idea or ever was.

    I do have to wonder, though, what connection you're making between Cuba and the war on terror [sic]. You're referring to Guantanamo? Guantanamo was leased by the United States long before the war on terror turned it into a prison camp, and the prisoners there don't tend to be Hispanic but Arab, Persian, or Afghani.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Saturday May 03, 2008 @10:57AM (#23284252) Homepage Journal

    Would that ideological bullshit include free speech? Cuba isn't "critical" to anything anymore. It's a vestige of the cold war. The last time they were critical was in the 60's when Kruschev tried to deploy nukes there.

    Cuba is not militarily strategically critical, it is ideologically strategically critical. I thought I had made that clear, but perhaps I should have said it three times so it would sink in.

    You want a change? Vote.

    Uh, perhaps you didn't notice, but Bush actually never got enough votes to be president. There were more than enough uncounted votes in each case which, if tradition would be borne out, would have decided both elections (well, there would never have been a second one) for Gore. Voting is about as effective as jerking off - it can be fun, and it can make you feel good, but it's no kind of solution to your problems.

    Actually, we wanted to stop giving support to a double-crossing, backstabbing dictator. I wish we would do that with some of our other "friends" around the globe.

    First, we'd have to start with our own administration(s).

    Riiigght ... which is why you have the freedom to air your opinion here without fear of retribution in the form of jackbooted government thugs kicking in your door and hauling you away for publishing "subversive propaganda".

    Please explain what the big new empty prison in Alaska is for.

    Prescott Bush was a major contributor to the SS, today we are preparing for the new Third Reich to spring forth from America. The concentration camps are already being constructed all over the nation.

    Just cover your eyes, ears, and mouth all at once!

    Cubans can actually get health care...
    Riiigght ... that must be why so many Americans die every year trying to cross over to Cuba in overloaded, leaky boats.

    I didn't suggest that everything was rosy in Cuba, although I am suggesting that things would be better there than they are here if we weren't crapping them up.

    American culture is entirely dependent on people who either do not know or do not care at all about what they are doing to the rest of the world. Our culture is entirely dysfunctional and is falling apart at all the seams. Mental illness is on the rise and it's not just because head shrinkers are nutballs who think everyone is as crazy as they are; things are getting crazier all the time.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Saturday May 03, 2008 @10:57AM (#23284256) Homepage Journal

    It would be possible to string up a wireless link, indeed the current record is 238 miles (383km - link [] ), so it is possible.
    Maybe for 802.11*. But people routinely bounce signals off a radio repeater placed 35,000 km off the ground [].

    I think the bigger issue is the legality of doing this. The embargo on Cuba does not only apply to the governments, but to citizens of both countries. You setting up a wifi link is a violation of that embargo, and could get you in serious trouble.
    Is the United States of America the only country in the western hemisphere with satellites? Might some Spanish- or even Portuguese-speaking country be more willing to help out
  • by isilrion ( 814117 ) on Saturday May 03, 2008 @11:06AM (#23284298)

    I would say, both parts are true. Cuban bandwdith is severely limited, thus, it is obviuous that certain key areas are prioritized (oddly enough, universities aren't - we have a 1mbs for 10 thousand users at mine).

    On the other hand, that doesn't explain why don't we have conectivity even within our countries (it is faster to download Debian from the internet that it is to download it from the cuban mirrors []). There is even one law to address this issue [], that has been largely ignored except on the part of giving monopoly-like powers to our phone company. And it even seem they find cheaper to use satellite to connect two places within the city, than to lay a couple hundred metters of fiber to the nearest hub.

    With that, though, I'm willing to call (the ministry of informatics and communications, the phone company, whatever), ignorant rather than evil. I do accept that the reason for that is technical (that we are forbidden to hook to the fiber optics that go around my country). But, there is censorship. Over time, I've collected a set of domains that seem to be banned. No one never confirms it, and the banning works as if the remote server was not working, but routing the request through a proxy server, you find out that it is indeed working. And more recently, we got this other law [], that was publicly mentioned by this guy [], and forbids chats, formus and mailing lists.

    So, we have everything. We have serious technical difficulties caused by the US (internet access). We have serious technical difficulties caused by who-knows-who (intranet access). And, we have censorship. I have high hopes that if the first one is solved, the rest will follow. However, for the sake of my country and our socialism... I do wish that the last two are solved first.

  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Saturday May 03, 2008 @12:21PM (#23284720) Journal

    You'd be surprised at how resourceful Cuban people are...I am amazed at how they make some of those old cars still work with no parts available...

    I'm Scottish. My grandfather had a lathe, a welding set, a bandsaw, a circular saw, various soldering irons, dies and taps etc. Parts for engines were made now and then, weights for fishing etc.

    My father has it all now.

    I dare say it'll be mine one day too, but I haven't a clue how to use any of it.

  • by smoker2 ( 750216 ) on Saturday May 03, 2008 @12:40PM (#23284816) Homepage Journal
    You don't have to be Cuban to be resourceful.
    The clutch actuating rod broke on my motor home while I was in the Welsh mountains once. A visit to the local Ford dealer revealed that they no longer made the part, and scrap yards were a waste of time.
    So after buying a portable gas torch, a few brazing rods, a hacksaw and a bolt, I was able to braze the bolt to the end of the broken rod and fix the problem immediately. It was the strongest part of the van after that.
    Also, because initially I had to get from the mountains to the town where the shop was, I got the clutch working by stealing about 4 feet of wire from a fence, and winding it back and forth between the pedal lever and the clutch release arm. This I then tightened up using a screwdriver between the strands which was kept from unwinding by being wedged against the vans body. That worked for 3 days before I got to do the permanent repair.
    It's not hard to do these things, just takes a little bit of application.
    BTW, I consider this hacking in one of its truest forms.
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Saturday May 03, 2008 @01:23PM (#23285104)

    "Persian or Afghani" ? You mean indo-European ? Those are countries, not ethnic groups. You cannot recognize an Afghan from a Dutch, except for language and predisposition to blowing himself up (oh sorry it's called "religion")
    Actually, ethnic group does apply. The base of the word ethnic is the Greek word ethnos, meaning nation. Now, as to whether the term "ethnic group" has any useful meaning is a matter of debate. Personally, I think that when the members of the ethnic group generally self identify themselves as members of the ethnic group, the term has some use.
  • by servognome ( 738846 ) on Saturday May 03, 2008 @02:08PM (#23285360)

    Sorry, but your government is all about supporting a decades old grudge and nothing else - your government deals with and indeed in some cases support regimes far worse than Cuba
    Not even that, I'm sure there are many American entrepreneurs who lobby to trade with Cuba. Problem is there is a vocal Cuban community in the key election state of Florida that is strongly against dealing with Castro. Most people in the US don't have a strong opinion on the subject, so you end up with politicians catering to a vocal minority to keep votes.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton