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Wary of Egypt crisis repeat, Cuba cracks down on Internet opposition movements

Miami , Fri, 11 Feb 2011 ANI

Miami (US), Feb.11 (ANI): The Government of Cuba is reported to be concerned about the burgeoning opposition movement in Egypt, and believes a similar situation could arise in Havan and other parts of Cuba with the help of the Internet.


The Castro regime, which has been in control of Cuban affairs since 1959, has therefore, intensified its crackdown on dissident groups in an attempt to ensure that what is happening in Cairo will not happen in Havana, Fox News reports.


"We do see instances of repression starting since the Egyptian upheaval. There have been brutal beatings on dissidents. It is a direct sign from the Cuban government that this is something that will not be tolerated on the island," Fox News quoted Susel Perez of the Cuba Transition Project at the University of Miami, as saying.


In a 53-minute video leaked last week, a Cuban counter-intelligence staffer warned an audience of Castro government officials that pro-Democracy organizers in Cuba and the United States were using social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to foment a political uprising in the island nation.


"The technology in itself is not a threat, but the threat is what the people who use the technology can do with it," the lecturer said in the video, identified by the Miami Herald as 38-year-old Eduardo Fontes-Suarez.


"The Internet is a battlefield," Suarez added.


The video lecture was purportedly shot over the summer, months before the situation exploded in Egypt. The impetus behind the unrest was a Facebook page created to honor a young Egyptian man allegedly murdered by corrupt police.


During the lecture, Fontes-Suarez directly blamed the United States for coordinating the new Internet push, and claimed that Cuban bloggers like Yoani Sanchez are part of Washington's campaign to overthrow the Castro government.


Cuban authorities recently unblocked Sanchez' blog, allowing it to be accessed and read within the island for the first time.


The reason may be that the authoritarian regime has such tight control of Cuba's Internet and those who access it-much firmer than Egypt's Mubarak government-that they believe they could clamp down on any uprising.


The overwhelming majority of Cubans do not have Internet access. According to recent statistics, there are only about 1.5 million Internet users out of 11 million in Cuba - just 14 percent.


According to the CIA's world fact book, private citizens in Cuba are prohibited from buying computers or accessing the Internet without special authorization.


Some Cubans buy illegal passwords on the black market or take advantage of public outlets to access limited e-mail and the government-controlled intranet. (ANI)


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