Some months ago, I read on the Internet that the Cuban government had bought from Italy its portion of shares in Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, S.A.*, better known by its acronym ETECSA. If it is now totally national, the abbreviation for “anonymous society” (S.A.) is superfluous. That purchase may be interpreted as a convenient “financial exclusion” of a foreign investor, whose economic injections in Cuba were fundamental to Cuban telephony. It is like a blockade in reverse, whereby the only beneficiary is the all-powerful state, which obtained the capital that it needed for that branch without having to cede too much to the liberating capitalist demands of its commercial associate.
I learned some days ago through the Cuban press, that they have facilitated the change of titled ownership for fixed landline phones: a fundamental step forward — some believe — toward the debureaucratization of that entity. I believe that it was a logical step after having legalized the purchase/sale of housing, because as is natural, some real estate properties include telephone service and it was ridiculous from a legal standpoint that it would be easier to be the owner of a house than of a phone.
Last May, the Ministry of Informatics and Communications approved Resolution No. 82, which makes possible the change of ownership title. Before, only transfers in cases of divorce, death, definitive emigration, or permutas** were allowed, in a country where only the minority of the population has access to that constant means of communication.
I don’t know if the procedure will be prompt or as slow and ineffective as state services tend to be for Cubans. We gain “the dignity” of recuperating “sovereignty” in our only telephone company in exchange for mistreatment, indolence and inefficiency for all of us Cubans who live on the archipelago.
This past 2nd of June my telephone line “passed away” and although we reported it on various occasions (several of our friends also did), we are still in mourning for the lack of communication.
What to do? Where to seek help? It appears that when there is financing from “foreign exploiters” mixed in with a government enterprise, we are better tended and paid, and less exploited than in one that is solely Cuban; and that “damned capitalism” is better than the capitalism of a ruling state, which ignores us, violates our rights and denies us services and attention.
When ETECSA was an anonymous society and a client reported a break in service, it would take two or three days to fix. Now that only a few months have passed since the state once again assumed control over the telephone enterprise as sole proprietor, it is as if there were no one tending to its given function. It is preferable that they charge us a diligent smile, rather than constantly advertising apparent and biliary benefits for the average Cuban, which are only in the minds of the highest political and bureaucratic class — generally demonstrating indolence and ineptitude.
The slogan “ETECSA: on line with the world” reflects the institutional frankness — aligned with the government — that they are fundamentally interested in the part of the orb which provides them with juicy dividends in the coin of the capitalist “enemy”, whom they criticize so much, and not in the other one — within our borders — without capital and exploited, to whom they imposed a line of silence and a devalued money that they disrespect and reject.
Note: My telephone service was reestablished two weeks after this text, which was delayed due to the impossibility of accessing the internet for a month.
*Enterprise of Telecommunications of Cuba, Annonymous Society.
**Permutes are a legalized form of exchanges of living quarters.
Translated by: Maria Montoto
June 30 2012