Cellphone Internet Access Bringing Changes Fast To Cuba

HAVANA (AP) — After a tornado slammed Havana in late January, Mijail Ramirez complained on Twitter that authorities were threatening to evict him from his damaged home.

A week later he said the government had changed its mind and would help him rebuild the house.

Jorge Luis Leon used the official Twitter account of a Cuban vice president to request that hospital waiting rooms have seating for family members, while a group of young people launched “Sube,” a ride-hailing app for the aging American sedans that ply the streets of Havana.

In the 2 1/2 months since Cuba allowed its citizens internet access via cellphones, fast-moving changes are subtle but palpable as Cubans challenge government officials online, post photos of filthy school bathrooms and drag what was one of the world’s least-connected countries into the digital age.

Communist authorities, in turn, are having to learn how to deal with more visible pressure coming from outside of party-controlled popular and neighbourhood committees.

“Life has changed,” said Alberto Cabrera, 25, who is part of the team that developed the Sube app. “You see it when you walk down the street.

The other day, looking from the roof of my house I could see that a neighbour had mobile internet service, as did the person in front and the person beyond him. You never saw that before.”