Cuban people are strong willed, passionate and fiercely patriotic, the latter trait is evident throughout the fabric of life in Cuba and impossible for foreign visitors to ignore.
Yet despite the passion and the patriotic love, there is an all too obvious shadow of poverty throughout Cuba something that touches the lives of the majority of people living there. Once you venture outside Havana, a city bustling with tourists and locals alike, you will see a country ravaged by poverty.
The extent of the poverty isn’t easily seen in Cuba. Coach tours and taxis avoid poverty stricken areas and it is only when you venture away from tourist areas that it is visible. Communication is something that is a big a problem.
For Cuban people basic internet access is a luxury enjoyed by only 26% of the population. And just because you have access doesn’t mean it is plain sailing, the government apply tight controls over its use and monitor closely email content.
This is a communist regime after all and one that is excessively strict. The Cuban authorities have called the Internet "the great disease of 21st century" due to 'counter-revolutionary' information being available on a number of websites.
*2020 Update* Since this article was published, internet access for locals has become more widespread. More information on this can be read in our recent Internet Access In Cuba article.
So with such limitations on the ordinary everyday communication channels westerners take for granted, Cuban’s must innovate to stay connected to one another whether in Cuba or internationally and that’s where mobile phones come in.
The Cuban community are spread far and wide around the world, many fleeing the oppressive regime of home for more civilised and relaxed societies and it’s through the use of mobile phones they can help their loved ones back home in Cuba and keep them connected no matter how far apart!
So how do they do this?
Mobile top-up, recharge (or ‘Recarga’ as it’s known in Spanish) is part of how they achieve this and Ding plays a key role in helping the Cuban Diaspora keep their family and friends connected. Through the power of mobile top-up, the Cuban diaspora regularly send top-up back home. They can do this simply because outside of Cuba, they can earn a good living. They can use their disposable income to send mobile top-up to their loved ones.
There is no US embargo on sending mobile phone top-up so Cuban’s living in the US (about 1.2 million left the Cuba for the United States between 1959 and 1993) can send home credit at will.
This is something they do in their droves, especially around peak times of the month when the ‘Double Bonus’ occurs, a four day bonanza that happens every month through the main Cuban mobile phone operator Cubacel, which offers double the top-up for the same standard price. Through Ding, Cuban’s can easily do this and send top-up reaching their destination phone within three seconds.
This is just part of life in Cuba, the reliance of family and friends living abroad, the reliance on their help to keep them connected and with the power of Ding they are achieving this small but powerful feat each and every day.