It's an image that's familiar around the world: A group of young people, glued to their laptops or smart phones, lounging around a public space and taking advantage of free, wireless Internet. But in Cuba, this scene is far from ordinary. When the famed artist Kcho provided wi-fi at his cultural center some weeks ago, he established the first such venue in the country's history. Now, in a rapidly changing Cuba, milestones like this have become more commonplace.
To its beneficiaries, free wi-fi is about more than gaining access to computer games and social media. It also involves establishing contact with the outside world. One 20-year-old at the cultural center was using wi-fi to chat with his father, who lives in the United States.
"Thanks to this service I can talk to him," the man, Adonis Ortiz, told the Associated Press.
These unprecedented commercial ties—some bank restrictions are also being lifted—have outpaced the political reconciliation between the two countries. The U.S. government still enforces a trade embargo of Cuba, and the two have yet to open embassies in each other's capitals. Nevertheless, President Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, are scheduled to meet at the Summit of the Americas next month in Panama City.