One news item that has been on the lips of all Cubans over the last few days concerns the rate reductions on cell phone calls. In just two years Cubans went from not being able to access wireless telephones, to these being approved, and to now where calls on them will only cost 0.10 CUCs (about 12 cents USD) a minute after 11:00 p.m.
Since the purchase of cell phones was first allowed, the price per minute was 0.45 CUCs, which was charged to both the person who made the call as well as to whomever received the call.
This too has now changed.
The phenomenon of wireless phones is something that has expanded considerably across the whole country, and the new changes will help to make this type of communication even more widespread.
But the situation is not so simple.
One might think that the use of these phones is something common, that there’s nothing more than using them as faster more convenient forms of communicating.
But reality demonstrates us a different story.
At first people began desperately buying the phones, but never to speak on them, because to get a line for a cell phone cost $40 CUCs, a substantial sum for the Cuban household budget.
Consequently, the phones had other uses, like playing the games that came included, listening to music and the most important thing of all: showing off to society that you could own something so expensive.
After a while people began to get lines for their mobile phones, but still not so they could talk; they would only receive messages and head off running to look for a public payphone from which to return the call.
Right now it’s hard not to be near a larger group of people without seeing someone pull out their Motorola and explain all its features and advantages.
Conversations about these can go on for hours, which prove that cell phones have become a fetish for considerable segment of the population.
All this would be acceptable if the phones were a really viable means of communication in Cuba, something that’s yet a reality given their relatively high prices.
Because of all this, these have emerged as something ridiculous. It’s sad to see how people —carrying something practically useless at the moment— have made these phones a necessity for being socially accepted and recognized.