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0000017b-35e5-df5e-a97b-35edaf910000Interest in Cuba has surged since the Obama administration’s announcement of a thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations. Opportunities may exist to build trade with the communist island nation, with exports of both manufactured and agricultural goods. And “I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba,” is a refrain that may help spur tourism between Michigan and the “Pearl of the Antilles.” Michigan Radio has two journalists in Cuba to tell some of the stories of Michigan’s connections to the Caribbean nation.

PURE CUBA: How Cubans are using Internet

Mercedes Mejia

Internet is being introduced in Cuba (slowly) and while people are rapidly embracing the technology, many still can’t afford it.

For about $2 per hour you can surf the web. It costs more at hotels. At the hotel Havana Libre, Wi-Fi use is $5 per hour.

Just in the past year the Cuban government allowed Wi-Fi zones in Havana, which can be found around a few parks and main business districts.  Locals sit on benches or sidewalks as they text, send email and use social media to communicate with friends and family.

Carolina Rodriguez Mazpule comes to this park in Havana to surf the web.

Credit Mercedes Mejia
19 year old Carolina Rodriguez Mazpule studies graphic design in Havana.

“I like to go on Facebook, talk with my friends who live abroad. I also like to go on Instagram. Or, I look up information for school.”

Government employees are allowed to have a modem in-home for business purposes, but the speed is frustratingly slow and comes with certain restrictions.

And, with the average salary from $20-$30 a month, it’s still a luxury many can’t afford.

If there’s one benefit, people are more connected with each other. No one is checking email at restaurants and people don’t walk the streets looking down at their phones.

Mercedes Mejia is a producer and director of Stateside.
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