Since the 1960’s, the United States has had various types of trade sanctions aimed at Cuba. The hope has been that these sanctions would spur democratic reforms on the island nation. President Bush announced today that Americans will soon be allowed to send cell phones to Cubans, a policy change that is meant to increase the freedom of expression for Cuban citizens.
MobileCrunch reported on April 14 of this year that Cubans are now able to buy cell phones, but for a hefty price. A cheap handset costs the equivalent of more than nine months of state wages. Earlier, on March 28, the Cuban government lifted restrictions on mobile phone use and allowed citizens unrestricted access to their handsets.
The new policy takes effect in a few weeks. The administration is saying that this is not a loosening of U.S. sanctions. Americans are currently allowed to send gift parcels to Cuba and this is said to be an extension of the gift allowance.
Ever since Raul Castro became President of Cuba, the nation has went through some basic economic and human rights reforms. Commenting on this President Bush said, “If Raul is serious about his so-called reforms, he will allow these phones to reach the Cuban people.”
I’d like to see some group offer to send donated handsets to Cuba. There could be a nationwide drive to gather and donate cell phones for the citizens of Cuba who have had their freedom of speech of rights restricted for decades. Cell phone technology may be the instrument by which the oppression of communism melts away to allow more freedom of expression.