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‘They’re Late To This’: Cubans In Miami React To Internet Access To Be Allowed On The Island

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Associated Press
In this Aug. 31, 2016 photo, a woman connects to wifi in Revolution Square in Santa Clara, Cuba.

The days of depending on designated Wi-Fi areas and being persecuted by police for using illicit private internet devices in Cuba may soon be over after state-run media announced that private use of Wi-Fi and other forms of internet access will be legalized on the island this summer.

The new regulation will allow Cuban citizens to connect to the internet with their own devices starting on July 29. The Cuban government also announced a plan to get half of the island's population online by the end of 2020. Yet the state will remain the sole internet provider in the island through Etecsa.

Read more: Cuba Legalizes Private Wi-Fi, Importation Of Routers

The announcement of new efforts by the communist government to expand internet access in a country that has long been one of the least wired in the world was received with mixed feelings by the Cuban American community in Miami. For some, it's an effort that comes too late. Others are worried that changes won't be far-reaching. 

“They’re late to this, they’re late,” said Jesus Leal Díaz, who was visiting his favorite barbershop in Little Havana's Calle Ocho Wednesday afternoon. “They [the government] should not have even announced it. It’s disrespectful. They say they are going to do it but they need to do it now.”

For younger people like Cuban-American college students Juan Carlos Ríos and Bianca Utset at Florida International University, the chance for improved communication with family members back in Cuba was viewed more positively.

“I think that this opportunity that Cuba will have if they get internet is going to help the community, but they still won’t trust in the government,” said Ríos, who described the difficulty in speaking to his uncle back in Cuba who lacked reliable access to the internet.

“ A lot of us don’t get to talk to our family over there and the chance to be able to, I think that’s good news,” said Utset.