Wi-Fi and Dirty Pants
As has been the case in Cuba for quite some time, everything that is created emerges warped, tainted by corruption and the vices and inefficiency of a society lacking civic and moral values and true interest in the development of the country.
Now this is affecting the new information and communications technologies, whose implementation - expensive, scant, limited and deficient - is also hindered by the abuse of speculators hoarding wireless connection cards; originally priced at 2.00 CUC for one hour of connection, they are shamelessly resold at 3.00 and up to 4.00 CUC.
The country's 35 Wi-Fi hotspots, with a range serving some 100 people each, are ridiculously inadequate. The 2.00 CUC/hour price is far too high in a country where the average monthly wage is around 20.00 CUC.
To avoid so much sitting around in the sun and in grubby public and private doorways and stairways, the threat of attackers, and the constant siege by speculators and annoying cops asking young people for their identification, or seeking to connect, due to the slowness of the connections provided by the Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA (ETECSA), the government would do well to take some steps to bring the service up to a level consonant with the countries in our geographical area and beyond.
First, service should be set up in public and private establishments (restaurants, cafés, shops, hotels, etc.) which, through the payment of a reasonable fee (40.00 CUC/month, for example, set by the ETECSA), would enjoy an increase in their numbers of users and/or consumers, drawn by the free service. It would be a win-win.
Second: expand Wi-Fi networks to citizens in their homes through monthly payment contracts similar to those established for the venues mentioned in the previous paragraph.
One might argue that these proposals do not account for the insufficient resources available to the Cuban government, but, as long as that the state monopoly has become involved in this lucrative and important business, it ought to meet the challenges posed by its development, or accept offers from American companies, which would surely drive down prices and provide much better service.
The massification of the new information and communications technologies would undoubtedly boost Cuba's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as has happened in other countries, like Bolivia, where widespread Internet access has allowed the country to enjoy the greatest economic growth in Latin America this year.
Perhaps the Cuban government's plans for modernization are not so ambitious, but Cuba would benefit from an end to the self-imposed blockade that prevents its citizens from enjoying the benefits of new technologies.
There will always excuses to invoke: the "imperialist blockade," the danger that the cable passes through Florida (?), the media war, cultural penetration, the lack of resources, etc.
One of the real reasons for all the foot dragging in the installation of cable, antennas and other system components is that after the technological upgrade, which is long overdue, the newspaper Granma will be even less read, and the Round Table will end up buried in the cemetery of grating and useless programs. Another reason is that we Cubans will have a little bit of freedom, and the directors of the private company called the "Socialist Revolution" hate the idea of the people enjoying some freedom, even if it is virtual.
In the end, sooner or later, Cubans will have Internet access at more affordable prices, and the dinosaurs will throw a tantrum, but will have to put up with development prevailing, despite all their fears and bad intentions. And, along the way, young people will not get their pants dirty on stairs and in doorways, nor will they be expelled from the vicinity of the Hotel Capri.
The right to the Internet is actually like the right to literacy. The illiterate of the 21st century are those citizens who do not enjoy this right and, in the case of Cuba, there are many who do not even know that it exists. Yet one more disgrace attributable to the leaders of the most notorious business disaster in the country's history, a socialist revolution that ceased to be a revolution early on, and was never really socialist.