Cubans get OK to buy electronic goods
First sign of reforms as Communists permit sale of computers, TVs, DVDs
updated 8:53 a.m. PT, Thurs., March. 13, 2008
HAVANA - Communist Cuba has authorized the sale of computers, DVD and video players and other electrical appliances in the first sign President Raul Castro is moving to lift some restrictions on daily life.
"Based on the improved availability of electricity the government at the highest level has approved the sale of some equipment which was prohibited," said an internal government memo seen by Reuters.
It listed computers, video and DVD players, 19-inch and 24-inch television sets, electric pressure cookers and rice cookers, electric bicycles, car alarms and microwaves that can now be freely bought by Cubans.
Raul Castro, 76, has led Cuba since July 2006 when his older brother Fidel Castro provisionally handed over power after intestinal surgery from which he has never fully recovered.
The younger Castro formally became Cuba's first new leader in almost half a century on Feb. 24, and promised to ease some of the restrictions on daily life in Cuba.
"The country's priority will be to meet the basic needs of the population, both material and spiritual," Raul Castro said as he replaced his brother, a staunch critic of capitalist consumer society.
Last year, under Raul Castro's provisional government, customs regulations were eased to allow Cubans to bring in some electronic equipment and car parts.