Cuba lifts ban on cell phones as Raul asserts control

The cellphone on Friday joined the growing list of once-banned items in Cuba, where Raúl Castro's month-old government has begun lifting decades-old prohibitions on household goods like microwave ovens and computers.

And while most of that merchandise was already available on the black market -- and the Cuban government has not taken action toward political reform -- the moves could signal the first steps toward economic changes on the island.

They are among the first major initiatives undertaken by President Raúl Castro, who officially took over the nation's helm last month after serving nearly 19 months on a temporary basis.

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