Cubans finally surf the web

2013-06-28 13:01
(AP)

(AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Havana – Cuban teacher Nancy Garcia would love to surf the web at home. But since that is restricted in this communist country, she now logs on from new hotspots – at a price few can afford.

“I don't stay long so as not to throw money out the window,” said the 53-year-old as she checked her e-mail near the Havana waterfront at one of the island's 118 new public access internet points, open for several weeks now.

With only doctors, journalists and certain other professionals able to connect from home, Cuba has one of the lowest numbers of web users in all of Latin America: just 2.6 million in 2011, out of a population of 11.1 million.

With few other options, Garcia and hundreds like her have been flocking to the new government-created hotspots to check e-mail, connect to social media and browse websites. That's if they can pay for it.

At the cost of $4.50 an hour, down from $6 previously, the internet remains out of reach for most Cubans whose monthly salary barely scratches the $20 mark.

“There will always be those who can afford to pay but there will always be more who can't,” said Garcia, who previously trekked to one of the city's hotels to go online, forking out over $10 an hour for a painfully slow connection.

“It's incredibly expensive,” agreed Deisy Perez, an actress and owner of a private restaurant who came to see if she could order audio and video material for her establishment.

“Today I took a look at what's on offer, on another day I'll do some advertising for the restaurant,” she said. “But I have to be quick, it's just too costly.”

Authorities say their goal is to provide home web access. But despite the switching on of an undersea fibre-optic cable from Venezuela to replace costly satellite hookups, the government has said it is forced to “prioritise” it for “social use” purposes, with universities, companies and research centres given preference.

Recently, a senior official insisted that limited access was due to “technological and financial” considerations.

Dissidents, however, claim the government's goal has been to control access to information and that restricting internet access is just another form of censorship in a country where all media outlets are state-controlled.

At the public access point frequented by Garcia and Perez, located in the landmark Focsa skyscraper, turnout is steady.

“There's a good crowd, more than I had expected,” said manager Dilia Ortega, who oversees the nine terminals.

“Sometimes there's a line,” she noted, adding that “clients are satisfied.”

Since succeeding his brother Fidel in 2006, Cuban President Raul Castro has allowed citizens to own a laptop and a cellphone, although here too, cost keeps the poor – most of the population – from partaking in this privilege.

“We're moving forward,” said Perez as she took a breather from her online shopping. “But even as more and more people have access to new technologies, there are still many more Cubans who don't even know it exists.”

Read more on:    cuba  |  internet
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The spotlight may be on you and you need to perform. This can be overwhelming and you need to stay as focussed and centred as you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.