Ask Siri any­thing, ex­cept who’s pres­i­dent of Cuba

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY MIMI WHITE­FIELD Mi­ami Her­ald

Now that Cubans can get on the in­ter­net with their mo­bile phones, it was in­evitable that they’d be­gin play­ing around and test­ing their phones’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

For those lucky enough to have iPhones or iPads, ask­ing Siri, the per­sonal as­sis­tant for the de­vices, provoca­tive ques­tions such as what is the mean­ing of life has be­come a source of amuse­ment. But when some Cubans asked Siri who the pres­i­dent of the is­land is, they were sur­prised to find that Siri thinks Cuba has two presi- dents: Raúl Cas­tro and Miguel Díaz-Canel.

When the ques­tion is posed in Span­ish, pic­tures of both Cas­tro and DíazCanel pop up and both are listed as Jefe de Es­tado (Head of State). U.S. users of the de­vices in­quir­ing about who the pres­i­dent of Cuba is get the same re­sponse: pic­tures of both men ap­pear with the leg­end head of state.

Ap­par­ently Siri does not know that on April 19, 2018, Cas­tro re­tired as pres­i­dent of Cuba’s Coun­cil of State and Coun­cil of Min­is­ters and that Cuba’s Na­tional Assem­bly of Peo­ple’s Power se­lected Díaz-Canel, the only can­di­date in the run­ning, to re­place him.

But per­haps Siri is more of a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst than some peo­ple are giv­ing her credit for. While DíazCanel does have the ti­tle of pres­i­dent, Cas­tro re­mains head of the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party and con­tin­ues to have sub­stan­tial po­lit­i­cal clout.

In De­cem­ber, ETECSA, the state phone com­pany, in­tro­duced 3G mo­bile wire­less ser­vice, mean­ing Cubans could fi­nally get the in­ter­net on their cell­phones. The ser­vice is far from per­fect. It’s very ex­pen­sive for the av­er­age Cuban and the net­work is patchy.

While Cuba now has 5.3 mil­lion mo­bile lines for a pop­u­la­tion of just over 11 mil­lion, there are few Cubans who can af­ford an iPhone or iPad.

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