February 5, 2011 / 9:41 PM / in 7 years

Video shows Cuban fears of Internet, social media

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba fears the United States 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 websites this week.

The 50-minute video apparently is a presentation given by an Internet expert to officials of Cuba’s Interior Ministry last June.

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

The expert, whose identity is not disclosed, told the officials the United States 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 in 2010.

He also said the U.S. government is financing the introduction into Cuba of satellite communications equipment to create secret points of WiFi access.

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

The lecturer mentioned U.S. 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.”

“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,” he said.

Cuba said on Friday that Gross, 61, will face trial soon on charges of crimes against the security of the state and that prosecutors would seek a 20-year sentence in the case that has been a stumbling block for U.S-Cuba relations.

The lecturer said the U.S.-supplied satellite equipment seeks to spread the voice of a new wave 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 United States is dedicating more money to finance “cyber dissidents” than to the island’s traditional opponents.

According to a U.S. State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks and published in December, Washington is losing confidence in the older dissidents and giving more credence to bloggers and intellectuals.

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.

Editing by Jeff Franks and Xavier Briand

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