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Computers go on sale to Cubans

  • Story Highlights
  • Computers become available under the communist government's new president
  • At $750, the QTech brand computers are within reach of only a few Cubans
  • Government permission is needed to gain access to the Internet from homes
  • President Raul Castro recently allowed DVD players, electric rice cookers in homes
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HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- Computers went on sale Friday for Cubans' private use, the latest in a series of goods to become available under the communist government's new president.

At about $750 apiece, the QTech brand computers are within the reach of only a few Cubans, whose average monthly salary is $17.

Fewer still will be able to gain the government permission needed to gain access to the Internet from their homes. That luxury is largely limited to government officials and foreign journalists.

President Raul Castro recently announced that electrical devices, including DVD players, electric rice cookers and mopeds that run on rechargeable batteries would be made available to the public.

Computers were on that original list, but shipments of the products only recently arrived on the island, officials said.

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Many electrical devices had been forbidden during the "special period" that Cubans endured after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and, with it, the loss of subsidies that paid for the petroleum that was used to produce electricity. Until recently, rolling blackouts were common in Havana.

Cubans with access to dollars can also buy cell phones and book hotel reservations -- other recent changes also ordered by Raul Castro, who was elected president in February after brother Fidel gave up the job because of poor health. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN Bureau Chief Morgan Neill contributed to this report.

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