CUBACEL recharges: Why Isn’t It Allowed From Inside?

Double Recharge…Double happiness this summer from 30 July to 2 August… Gift of 30 text messages… Other surprises on these days.

For some time and with some regularity, many Cubans have received refills on our phones thanks to the generosity of friends and advocates who support us from the outside. Many others receive it by the kindness of family and friends living outside of Cuba

These refills, promoted by a subsidiary of ETECSA, CUBACEL, S.A, the telephone company responsible for cellular telephone service in Cuba, are announced through a message that appears on our phones with the following content: “CUBACEL Reports: PROMOTION . Recharge the balance from overseas from 20.00 CUC and get twice the amount recharged”, then it shows the beginning and ending dates of the promotion.

And this comment is stressed by the writer because I have always been shocked at the explicit declaration which, by all accounts, is discriminatory, harmful to Cubans living in Cuba and violates their rights to enjoy a service even if they have the ability to pay. I have asked several employees of the Príncipe branch on Carlos III Avenue, and their answers have been evasive, if not incriminating: “It’s management’s decision” “We only work with the public, we don’t make the rules” “Why are you asking me? you should be asking Raúl” I wish I could ask him, though that would be the least I would ask him.

That is, it’s not just about the real and true fact that CUBACEL and ETECSA take it upon themselves to arbitrarily interrupt at will telephone communication of those pesky customers who don’t have, according to the system’s standards, the “correct” political leaning, thus, ETECSA violates the contract’s conditions, but, in addition, it voids everyone’s rights, including those of people who are obedient or quiet, who don’t bother with political matters.

In short, I would like to know what this policy is about. It is exclusionary for Cubans residing here, whose money seems to be of absolutely no value for this telephone company managed by – how well we know it — the Ministry of the Armed Forces, that is to say, Castro II.

So I appeal to the imagination, information or wisdom of readers to help me understand what, needless to say, the employees of the Cuban revolutionary telephone company will never explain. How is it “politically” possible that a Cuban who has 20.00 CUC to recharge his cellular phone will be unable to benefit from his own country’s company promotion? Could it have anything to do with the criminal imperialist blockade? Could it be that the evil “Big, Bad Wolf” and other stateless Cubans can’t prevent us from having émigrés recharge our mobile phones and yet have the power to influence media policy dictated by the no less big, bad Cuban dictatorship?

No doubt, the communications issue is extremely delicate for the aging olive-green cupola. It isn’t merely about the undeniably most expensive cellular telephone service in the world, but, in addition, the only one that discriminates against its clients for the simple geographically tragic fate of living inside CUBACEL territory.

Translated by Norma Whiting

2 August 2013