Cubans win OK to buy cellphones (cash only)

From Reuters

Cuba said Friday that it would allow all Cubans to buy and use cellphones, the latest step by new President Raul Castro to improve access to consumer goods.

Cuba has the lowest rate of cellphone use in Latin America. The service had been restricted to foreigners and government officials and employees.

Cuban telecommunications monopoly ETECSA, a joint venture with Telecom Italia, said it would begin selling the service within days to people who have the hard currency.

Many Cubans have long sought access to cellphones and hoped it would be among the first steps taken by Castro, who succeeded his ailing brother, Fidel, on Feb. 24 as Cuba’s first new leader in almost half a century.


Some Cubans already have cellphones, registered in the names of foreigners or their workplaces. They will now be able to put the contracts in their own names, ETECSA said.

Cubans will be able to buy computers and DVD players next month for the first time, if they have the hard currency. Just two years ago, customs officials confiscated DVD players on arrival in the country.