Next time you boot up your home desktop, spare a thought for the population of Cuba who are only just getting the right to own a personal computer.
According to an Associated Press
article, Friday saw the lifting of a ban on the sale of evil capitalist personal computer systems under the new president of the island Raul Castro.
The £400 Qtech PCs aren't exactly going to set the world on fire, with Intel Celeron processors and 512MB of RAM running a Windows XP install and a good old fashioned CRT display – pretty weedy by our standards, but a revolution (sorry) for the locals. Interestingly, both Intel and Microsoft are forbidden to export goods to Cuba under the US trade embargoes in place against the communist nation – but that doesn't seem to be stopping Qtech.
The price might seem high for the spec, but it's even higher when you take into account the average wage for a Cuban worker – just £10 a month. Nevertheless, eager buyers have been queuing up to be the first on the island to own a legitimately bought PC.
One such individual is 14 year old Brian Brito, who saved up his pocket money for two years just so he could join the information revolution. AP quotes Brian as saying “It's good for playing games,
”, whilst his mother rather hoped he would “use it for school, for learning.
Although Raul Castro's more progressive regime means a reduction in the restrictions on daily life in Cuba, owners of freshly bought PCs won't be hooking them up to the Internet quite yet. With the exception of government employees, personal Internet access is still illegal in Cuba. Whether this restriction is likely to be lifted remains to be seen – let's hope COL (Cuba On-Line) CDs will join mobile phones, PCs, and plug-in pressure cookers on the shelves of Cuban stores soon.
Looking forward to the day when you can play Cubans at Team Fortress 2
, or should the country be concentrating on sorting out more than just restrictions on consumer goods? Share your thoughts over in the forums