New Cuban gov't to allow ordinary citizens to get cell phone service

New President Raul Castro's government on Friday said ordinary Cubans can get cell phones, a luxury previously reserved for those working for foreign firms or holding key posts in the communist-run state. It was the first official announcement of the lifting of a major restriction under the 76-year-old Castro, and marked the kind of small freedom many on the island have been hoping he would embrace since succeeding his older brother Fidel as president last month. Some Cubans previously ineligible for cell phones had already obtained them by having foreigners sign contracts in their names, but mobile phones are not nearly as common in Cuba as elsewhere in Latin America or the world. In a decree published in a small black box on page 2 of the Communist Party newspaper Granma, Cuba's telecommunications monopoly said it would allow the general public to sign prepaid contracts in Cuban Convertible Pesos, which are geared toward tourists and foreigners and worth 24 times the regular pesos Cuban state employees are paid in.