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Cuba opens tourist hotels to citizens

The prohibition on staying in foreigners-only hotels unnerved many Cubans, who complained that foreigners were being afforded rights that were denied to ordinary citizens.

Cubans will be allowed to stay in the hotels beginning at midnight Monday, said employees at several Havana hotels. Word of the change came from Tourism Ministry officials, the employees said.

For most Cubans, the measure is largely symbolic, as hotel rates are unaffordable. Tourist hotels in Cuba can cost anywhere from $60 to more than $200 a night -- well out of reach for most Cubans, who earn fewer than $20 a month on average.

The hotel announcement comes after the government lifted a ban last week on Cubans owning cell phones. That privilege, too, will be too costly for most Cubans

The Cuban government did not say how much cell phones will cost, but it currently costs more than $120 to activate a line.

"It's light years from what I can buy," one Cuban said of the cell phone cost.


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