Moments ago, President Bush announced a landmark policy change with regard to Cuba. Americans will now be able to send cell phones to Cubans. It's a change that Bush hopes will encourage the new regime of Raul Castro to increase freedom of expression for Cuban citizens
The announcement was made in a speech intended to mark Cuba's 106th anniversary of independence. I'm a political speech aficionado, and don't usually cotton to the simpler prose preferred by Bush — but this one had the prints of a new scribe all over it. To see what he said,
Bush said (and I'm paraphrasing closely, the text isn't online yet):
Now that Cubans can have cell phones, let's make sure they have the freedom to express themselves. Now that Cubans can buy DVD players, let's make sure they can watch movies made by Cuban artists who are allowed to speak freely. Now that Cubans can buy computers, let's give them unrestricted access to the Internet. Now that they can buy toasters, let's make sure they don't have to worry about being able to afford bread to put in it.
I thought it summed up the dichotomy of the advancing freedoms and the work left nicely. Now that the change has been announced, the administration is waiting to see if Cuba will allow the phones to enter. The White House was careful to say that the change is not a loosening of the US economic embargo against Cuba, but a change in regulations. Is this a step in the right direction? Are cell phones the answer to building a new relationship with Cuba?