Cuban Government Says 'Ok Computer'

Dennis Faas's picture

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without your computer? Most people can't even fathom it. Would it surprise you to know that until last month, Cubans were restricted from owning computers, surfing the Internet, or having cell phones?

Until recently, the communist Cuban government (under Fidel Castro) restricted all non-essential expenses, such as air conditioners, luxury cal rentals, and toasters.  Average Cubans were not allowed any of these indulgences. (Source:

In most countries, computers, Internet access and cell phones are an everyday, often integral, part of life. We often takes these luxuries for granted, rarely thinking about the value of computers or the Internet. We think even less about those people in the world who don't have the techie gadgets we love so much.

This past February, Castro's younger brother Raul became President and began making changes to his elder brother's highly autocratic policy. These alterations included allowance for average Cubans to purchase home computers, and last Friday those first computers poured into the market.

Currently, the only model being sold is the QTECH with DVD player, mouse, and a keyboard.  The US $780 computer contains an 80 gig hard drive, 512 mb of RAM and Windows XP. Considering the average Cuban makes $19.50/week, the purchase is one that only few can make. Other items, such as air conditioners and toasters, are not allowed until 2009 and 2010 respectively, because the country can't yet provide enough electricity for such appliances. (Source:

Cuba's 'ok computer' policy would probably make a bigger splash if the government also allowed Internet access. As clashes between the Chinese government and Internet search engines Yahoo and Google have shown, computer access is not the problem for communist countries. The Internet is. To this end, the Cuban government will continue to restrict Internet access to government officials and state journalists. It will be interesting to see how long the government holds out on its Internet ban. With computers in hand, it will only be so long before Cubans demand access to uncensored news and entertainment. (Source:

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