I greatly doubt that any other country in the western hemisphere has such ideal conditions for someone to “unplug” as does Cuba. It turns out that on the largest island in the Caribbean — at almost twenty years since the Internet has become the indispensable medium for human communications —this network of networks remains on the margin here.
It’s simply impossible for the average citizen in Cuba to connect to the Web from their home. To do so they have to turn to a hotel, where an hour of connection time can cost almost half the minimum monthly wage. This obviously leaves a good part of the population sidelined from accessing this vital service.
Similarly, the high cost of cellphone service makes a mobile phone more like a GPS than a facilitator of communication. Running at about $.50 USD per minute, phone services don’t allow much time to fall in love. After a cellphone rings, it’s common to hear: “Yeah Ok bye.”
I thought about all of this when I found out two months ago that a friend who lives in Spain was sending his 14 year-old daughter to Cuba on vacation; his plan was to use the island as an excuse for disconnecting the fixated girl from both the phone and the Internet.
What automatically occurred to me was that this could present itself as a juicy business opportunity for the Cuban government, which could outstrip the world health tourism market with an attractive tropical alternative for patients addicted to the Internet and mobile devices.
Two possible slogans for the campaign that I liked were:
– “Cuba: Feel far from the West when you’re right in the middle of it.”
– “Cuba: Where those who are happily disconnected welcome you to join them.”
These contemporary patients could save on the expensive treatments of European and US clinics. Here it’s enough to sit on the Malecon seawall, make friends and by the end of the week be like any other Cuban – unaware of the burdens of those who are obsessed with constantly being connected and ignorant of the suffering of those who are compelled to use their phones like offices.
I think that the government — now with its new policies that seek to promote truly profit-making businesses — should take advantage of these fabulous conditions to grow a new industry from the ground up: that of “disconnection therapy.”
I believe that Cuba, like no other country on the planet, has been presented with a great opportunity to become the leading market supplier in this field.