HAVANA TIMES — The news zigzag their way through Cuba’s online media and down the grapevine. Some say it’s coming, some say it isn’t. It might be this year, there may be plans underway – maybe, we’ll see. In the midst of all this chatter and contradictory news, the arrival of an Internet connection accessible to us simple Cuban mortals – for there are Cubans who aren’t mere mortals, and not only because they have a home Internet connection – seems within sight.
I start jumping with joy. After all, I could soon become an Internet user. The red alert button, however, soon starts to flash – and not precisely as I start to speculate about what the price of the service could be (as the history of “Cuban progress” prompts us to do), but when I begin to think about the quality of this future service.
I of course agree that everything should be computerized and paperwork reduced to a minimum. In Cuba, however, the positive side of progress always comes hand in hand with shoddiness, ignorance and the conformism and hyperbole that any action undertaken by a Cuban entails.
Here are two quick examples:
1- Digital registers were set up in pharmacies across Cotorro, a municipality on the outskirts of Havana. Now, pharmacists need only scan the barcode on the medication and this makes the service exponentially faster.
But, what happens when…the network is down?
Well, the pharmacists have to find another way of registering the medication they sell, making the service exponentially slower.
2- The civil registry and identification card offices in Havana have been computerized. Now, fingerprints are taken using an optical device and photographs with digital cameras. This way, if someone needs a new ID card, they can have it the same day they apply for it.
But, what happens…when the network is down?
Everything simply comes to a standstill. After you’ve stood in line for hours, since early in the morning, they tell you, with a peremptory tone, that they don’t know when the network will be up and running again – which boils down to having wasted your day there.
We would all be very happy if these were isolated incidents.
What I mean to say with all this is that, if we intend to impel a “technological revolution”, the least we can do is set up an infrastructure that can respond to such elementary and needed changes in modern society.
Otherwise, we will only be repeating the failures and embarrassments that line the history of our country. And we Cubans are more than fed up with such disasters.