Mon, Feb 07, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Video shows Havana’s fears of Internet

Reuters, HAVANA

Cuba fears the US is encouraging dissent through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, with the goal of toppling the government, according to the video of what appears a meeting of Cuban officials posted on Web sites last week.

The 50-minute video apparently is a presentation given by an Internet expert to officials of the Cuban Interior Ministry in June last year.

A link to the video (http://vimeo.com/19402730) was posted on several blogs, including that of Cuban anti-government blogger Yoani Sanchez, and on the Web site of the Miami Herald. It is not known how the video was obtained.

The expert, whose identity is not disclosed, told the officials the US is promoting use of Facebook and Twitter to foment dissent similar to ways it was used in insurrections in the Ukraine in 2004 and in Iran last year. He also said the US government was financing the introduction into Cuba of satellite communications equipment to create secret points of Wi-Fi access.

In Cuba, Internet access is limited and content largely controlled by the government.

The lecturer mentioned US aid contractor Alan Gross, who has been detained since December 2009 on suspicions he illegally supplied satellite phones to Jewish groups for Internet access. Gross is described in the video as a “mercenary.” Cuba said on Friday that Gross, 61, will face trial soon on charges of crimes against the security of the state.

“The idea is to create a technological platform away from control of Cuban authorities that permits the free flow of communication between Cuban citizens selected by [Cuban enemies] and the world,” the lecturer said.

He said the US-supplied satellite equipment seeks to spread the voice of anti-government bloggers such as Sanchez.

“A virtual network of mercenaries is organizing that are not the traditional counter-revolution. We are talking about young people, people who can have an attractive discourse, young people who hang out with our children and our brothers,” the expert said.

He said the US was dedicating more money to finance “cyber dissidents” than to the island’s traditional opponents.

In the video, the expert said Cuba should try to neutralize the dissident bloggers by countering with its own.

“Being a blogger is not bad. They have their bloggers and we have ours. We’re going to fight to see which of the two turns out stronger,” he said.

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