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Cuba slams US easing of sanctions on Web services
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Mar 16, 2010 - 8:33:44 AM

Cuba slams US easing of sanctions on Web services

HAVANA A US decision to ease sanctions on Cuba and two other countries to allow exports of Internet services is intended to "destabilize" the communist island, Cuba's government has said.

The US State Department announced March 8 it would ease sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan to increase citizens' access to online communication tools and boost "free speech and information to the greatest extent possible."

But Cuban President Raul Castro's government said the decision "said clearly that its objective was to use these service as tools of subversion and destabilization," according to statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

"This shows once again that the US government is not interesting in softening its policy nor in developing normal relations with Cuba, but only in developing a network that facilitates its subversive actions in our nation," the statement added.

The US Treasury Department modified sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Sudan to allow exports by US companies of services related to Web browsing, blogging, email, instant messaging, chat, social networking and photo- and movie-sharing.

Cuban authorities exercise strict control over the Internet, blocking communication sites like Skype and blogs that are critical of the government.

Few Cubans have access to the Internet, which is cannot be installed in private residences without express permission from authorities.

Where access is available in places like hotels, the cost -- often eight dollars an hour in a country where a monthly salary runs around 20 dollars -- is prohibitively high.

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