Q The policy change allowing Americans to send cell phones to family members in Cuba — are you sure that if people send these phones, that they’ll work, or are you just allowing a change and hoping that they’ll work?
MS. PERINO: I’ll refer you to what — earlier today in the briefing room that Dan Fisk said that we do believe that they would work. And I think what’s important here is that the President is saying, all right, Raul, if you say that you’re going to allow people to have cell phones, let’s actually really let them have them. As Dan was saying this morning, the average income — monthly income for a Cuban is $12, and a cell phone is about $120 plus the service plus the activation fee. So they’re completely out of reach for the majority of people in Cuba.
What the President wants to do is say, let’s call you out on that. If you are serious about allowing people to have a cell phone, let’s make sure that they can actually have them and use them. And so that’s what we’re trying to do here.
Q So how will they get service if they can’t afford it? I mean, does the government have to allow it?
MS. PERINO: What he said — what Dan said this morning is that included in this change is not only do you allow for the device to be sent, but that American — Cuban Americans who are living here in America could pay for the service, as well.
Q And you have confidence that would work?
MS. PERINO: As far as I know, from what was said this morning, yes.
Q Well, how do you know it would work on the Cuban network? Isn’t this just a case of the President trying to call their bluff for the propaganda advantage? There’s no —
MS. PERINO: I’m sure that this is all given consideration. And Dan Fisk this morning — I don’t have any other information except for what the expert said this morning, that he believed it would work. Certainly this is something that would have to be taken into consideration in a policy process. I’m sure it was, and I’ll see if there’s any more I can get for you.
B-B-But… What About The Glorious Embargo?
Q Yes, Dana, back to Cuba. If Americans are now able to send phones to a place they couldn’t send phones before, and send money for a service that they couldn’t send money, how is that not a loosening of the embargo?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think, remember, that this is a changing of the existing regulations. There’s — the embargo is based on doing business because the regime makes you do business with just the regime, and the money doesn’t get passed on to the people who are living in Cuba. There is already an existing regulation — and I don’t have all the details at my fingertips — that allows for gift parcels to be sent from Cuban Americans to their families back in Cuba. What this did is allow for, if you were putting together a care package, to put a cell phone in it, as well. That has not been allowed before.
Q But it is being allowed now. So that’s not a loosening?
MS. PERINO: What I just said is — no, I think it’s separate from the embargo. That’s how I would describe it.
Q One other question, too, about the money. In order to get service in Cuba, presumably you have to pay the state-run Cuban phone service provider. Are Americans not going to be then subsidizing the regime by paying money to that provider?
MS. PERINO: Let me go and back and see how it will work because what — that doesn’t correspond with what Dan said this morning at the gaggle. So I’ll go back and find out in terms of where they believe the service is paid for.