So Now We Have Internet Access in Cuba?

Daisy Valera 

The building of the Ministry of Finances and Prices.

HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago I came across “Resolution 146-2012” of the Ministry of Finances and Prices.

It establishes the rate for Internet connections for Cubans at 6 CUC (about $6.50 USD an hour) and 1.50 CUC ($1.65 USD an hour) for international e-mail. Friends tell me that this was the news item of the day.

Reading the document, the first surprise appeared under the “whereas” that states:

On the suggestion of the Ministry of Informatics and Telecommunications, it was decided to establish the public rates in hard currency Cuban pesos (CUC) for Internet and international e-mail access.

I point to this to highlight two things:

– The government does not recognize the pressure that has been exercised by Cuba’s incipient civil society to achieve access to this service.

– The hard currency CUC is a currency that isn’t commonly paid to workers.

If we do a little math, a moderate two hours a day on the Internet for 30 days in a month would cost 360 CUCs.

Though two hours a day is not all that much, 360 CUCs is an unthinkable amount of money for many people on the island – it’s much more than a year’s wage for the average professional.

One can check their mail and download messages on a machine in five minutes to save on connection time. Then one can write their responses and reconnect to send them. For this reason, the new e-mail rate seems more promising.

Still, the concise ministry document generates more questions than hopes:

–  Who in Cuba are able to pay those high prices?

–  What situation justifies keeping those rates in the clouds?

–  Will an error message appear if I’m interested in reading certain blogs or Havana Times?

–  How much privacy does the state guarantee with this service? The same as for cellphones?

Faced with this lack of answers, all we have left is to wait and continue using under the table accounts that have lower cost (1 CUC per hour).

Although it’s undeniable that the new service will radically modify the way Cubans access information, there’s a long road to travel for Internet access not to become the privilege of a few.

Here is the original resoultion in Spanish:

RESOLUCION No.146/2012

clip_image002Ministerio de Finanzas y Precios

RESOLUCION No.146/2012

POR CUANTO: Mediante el Acuerdo No. 3944, de fecha 19 de marzo de 2001, del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo de Ministros, fueron aprobados con carácter provisional, hasta tanto sea adoptada la nueva legislación sobre la organización de la Administración Central del Estado, el objetivo y las funciones y atribuciones específicas de este Ministerio, entre las que se encuentra, lo establecido en el apartado Segundo, numeral 23, de dirigir y controlar la labor de formación, fijación y modificación de los precios y tarifas.

POR CUANTO: A propuesta del Ministerio de la Informática y las Comunicaciones, se ha decidido, establecer las tarifas a la población, en pesos cubanos convertibles (CUC), para los servicios de Acceso a Internet y Correo Electrónico Internacional, así como la aplicación de las tarifas para los referidos servicios en las instalaciones hoteleras.

POR TANTO: En ejercicio de las facultades que me están conferidas en el apartado Tercero, numeral Cuarto del Acuerdo No. 2817, de fecha 25 de noviembre de 1994, del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo de Ministros,


PRIMERO: Establecer las tarifas a la población, en pesos cubanos convertibles (CUC), para los servicios de Acceso a Internet y Correo Electrónico Internacional, según se detalla en el Anexo Único, que consta de una (1) página y se anexa a la presente Resolución, formando parte integrante de la misma.

SEGUNDO: Las tarifas relacionadas en el Anexo Único de la presente Resolución, podrán aplicarse con carácter de mínimas, cuando se brinden los servicios en instalaciones hoteleras a usuarios no huéspedes de los hoteles.

TERCERO: Las tarifas que se aplican a los usuarios huéspedes de las instalaciones hoteleras, se forman por las Instituciones a las que se subordinan los hoteles, a partir de acuerdos que establecerán con la Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S. A (ETECSA).

PUBLÍQUESE, en la Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba.

ARCHÍVESE el original en la Dirección Jurídica de este Ministerio.

Dada en La Habana, a los 27 días del mes de abril de 2012.

Lina O. Pedraza Rodríguez


Acceso a Internet 6.00 CUC

Correo Electrónico Internacional 1.50 CUC

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

18 thoughts on “So Now We Have Internet Access in Cuba?

  • July 16, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Poor Indian children get free Internet. this is so that they will be economically useful when they are older. australia is spending about $40 billion on broadband to catch up with the countries that are making huge amounts of money from the internet. japan, south korea and china. at present, cubans with internet access can monopolize imports with orders on websites like also, without internet access, how can cubans know what is going on in the rest of the world. for example, cubans have been looking for an economic model in china and vietnam. both countries are successful because of size. both countries are export oriented. cuba doesn’t have the population of vietnam. there are other models. the austalian and new zealand model is the chile model too. pinochet’s economic policies were disastrous. the chicago boys neo-liberalism which seems to be the direction cuba is going and china and vietnam have already gone this route. what is really important is export orientation. chile, along with other nearby countries, has expanded agriculture and horticulture for airfreight, expanded beef and dairy, expanded fish farms and expanded backpacker hostels over the last 23 years since pinochet left the presidency. the result has been that the shops in santiago resemble paris in the range and price of products. i believe that 5 million backpacker tourists a year is a reasonable and achievable ambition and if they spent $3,000 each that is $15 billion and that would soon be the end of cuban international credit problems. .

  • June 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    The Guardian article ‘misses’ some information. As an electrical engineer, I find the lack of information offensive to the reader. The ALBA-1 was only a first step. In order for end-users to have the bandwidth it provides, a fiber-optic network needs to be implemented as a backbone through the whole island. Not to mention countless fiber/copper and fiber/cable converters to implement metropolitan networks. Does that exist in Cuba? AP didn’t care to do its homework and said nothing.

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