US to permit sending phones to Cuba

Move follows Raul Castro's decision to ease restrictions on electronics equipment.

    Bush addressed relatives of Cuban political prisoners on Wednesday at a White House gathering [AFP]

    "If it [Cuba] follows its recent public gestures - by opening up access to information, implementing meaningful economic reforms, respecting political freedom and human rights - then it can credibly say it has delivered the beginnings of change."
     
    The US government said the new policy, which will take effect in a few weeks, did not mark an easing of the US's economic embargo against Cuba.
     
    Intead it modified a regulation permitting Americans to send certain gifts to residents of the communist-ruled nation, Dan Fisk, the National Security Council senior director for western hemisphere affairs, told the Associated Press news agency.
     
    New service contracts
     
    Cuba's state telecommunications company, Etecsa, said in April that is predicted 1.4 million new mobile service contracts in the next five years on the island, which has a a population of about 11 million people.
     
    Since becoming Cuba's first new president in 49 years, Raul Castro has removed laws prohibiting Cubans from owning mobile phones in their own names, staying in tourist hotels and buying DVD players, computers and kitchen appliances.
     
    He also has acknowledged that state salaries are too small to live on, and pledged steady improvements, including land reform for small farmers.
     
    Fidel Castro, 81, has not been seen in public since July 2006, when he underwent emergency intestinal surgery and relinquished power to his brother.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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