536 ? Puede Usted Ahora Oirme?
So, soon, you will be able to cell phone the folks back home in Havana.
But, you say, they have no money for the phone or the bill.
No problem. Under the changes just announced by the Obama administration, you can buy the phone and pay the bill FOR them.
There are other lifted restrictions, too. Like more visits or longer visits or sending bucks. But the telephone will turn out to be the most important thing to come of this.
Because if you can phone, you can text. If you can text, you can surf. You can send pictures. You can receive pictures. Information is power.
A friend, we'll call her Maria, was born in Cuba and left with her siblings and parents years after LBJ freed the slaves.
Maria, of the million dollar eyes, a smile brighter than any smoker deserves, a finely tuned brain and a hard line about Castro and Castro-Lite. She illuminates some of what's going on down there. The phrase "morally bankrupt" comes up more than once in the conversation. Apathy. Shut-down brains. It's more than just poverty and oppression, she says. It's a moral crisis.
Maria would like people with relatives to have the freedom to visit. But, she says, there are those who just want rub their American experience into the faces of the resident Cubans, "exploit the 15 year old prostitutes" and generally strut and show off. She doesn't believe the cell phone theory. She says the population's been down so long, no one cares anymore.
She knows the culture well. Perhaps she is right. But maybe she's wrong.
She doesn't expect democracy, but maybe something akin to what happened in China, with some private businesses allowed to operate.
There will be no overt counterrevolution. But there might be a restoration of the missing backbones. All it takes is one kid with the will to talk to his age-mates. All it takes is a few pictures of ordinary Cuban-Americans living ordinary American lives, and of a car built after 1959, or a McDonald's menu or a Wal-Mart. America is in sad economic shape right now. But that won't last forever.
And with a little bit of a push, maybe that's the message we can send.
Of course, if cell service in Cuba turns out to be like early cell phone service in this country, they'd best master that most famous of all cell phone questions, "?puede Usted ahora Oirme?'
"Can you hear me now?"
--Do you think the Navy reads this blog? Probably not. But it's liberating that they came up with the same solution for rescuing Capt. Phillips.
--The car insurance mavens probably don't read here, either. But they, too have come around to right thinking about those micro cars. If your memory needs refreshing, here's a link to Wessay #331 from 12/07
--How do they make a buck on zero percent financing? It sure isn't volume. It's a mystery -- but they must, otherwise they wouldn't offer it.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.® And apologies for the high school Spanish.