Cuba Puts Computers on Sale to Public
Cubans are getting wired. The island's communist government put desktop computers on sale to the public for the first time Friday, ending a ban on PC sales as another despised restriction on daily life fell away under new President Raul Castro.
A tower-style QTECH PC and monitor costs nearly US$780 (euro505). While few Cubans can afford that, dozens still gawked outside a tiny Havana electronics store, crowding every inch of its large glass windows and leaving finger and nose prints behind.
Inside, four clerks tore open boxes, hastily assembling display computers. By the time a sign went up listing the PCs specifications, more than a dozen shoppers were lined up to get in.
"Look at that!" murmured Armando Batista as he pressed against the window. Although he can't afford to buy one, he said, "these are good for a start."
The gray and black QTECHs, complete with DVD players, bulky CRT monitors and standard-issue black mice and keyboards, are the only model available.
The Cuban PCs have Intel Celeron processors with 80 gigabytes of memory and 512 RAM and are equipped with Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. Both could be violations of a U.S. trade embargo, but not something Washington can do anything about in the absence of diplomatic relations with Havana.