Cuba accuses US of helping dissidents access internet

Woman uses computer (file image) Cubans face tight restrictions on accessing the internet

Cuba has accused the United States of helping Cuban dissidents access the internet as part of a campaign to undermine the communist government.

In a foreign ministry statement, Cuba said the US was "promoting... financing and supplying" opponents of the government using "diverse media".

It blamed staff at the US Interests Section at the Swiss embassy in Havana.

The US has said it simply allows Cubans access to computers and free courses on how to use the internet.

Access to the internet in Cuba is severely restricted, but some activists have used it to challenge the government.

Havana said that diplomats from the US Interests Section were "permanently inciting these people... to undertake provocative actions... and act against the Cuban constitutional order".

The statement was published in the official newspaper, Granma.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the section did offer free internet courses for Cubans as well as access to computers - like all other US missions - but denied that diplomats were working to subvert the Cuban government.

She said the US promoted "freedom of access to information around the world".

"Obviously, this wouldn't be necessary if the Cuban government didn't restrict access to the internet and prevent its own citizens from getting technology training," she said.

The timing of the latest statement, just ahead of the US presidential elections, is curious, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports from Havana.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney recently launched a campaign advert in the key swing-state of Florida - home to many anti-communist exiles - saying that Cuba supports Barack Obama for the presidency.

The government in Havana appears to be denying that, albeit in a roundabout way, while also reminding Cubans that hostility to Cuba has remained constant in the US for five decades, regardless of who is in the White House, our correspondent adds.

The US and Cuba broke off diplomatic relations in 1961, but have maintained interest sections in each other's capitals for the past three decades to provide consular services and deal with bilateral issues.

Three years ago, a US contractor was imprisoned for 15 years for distributing laptops and electronic material to the island's Jewish community.

Alan Gross said he had just been trying to help the small community get access to the internet.

More on This Story

Changing Cuba

More Latin America & Caribbean stories


Features & Analysis

  • Martin Gardner as a young manThink hard

    Was this man the world's greatest puzzle master?

  • Carved pumpkinTrick or treat

    What did a riot at a pumpkin festival show about race in US?

  • A woman puts on a surgical mask during hospital Ebola training in Alabama.'Dark continent'

    Is prejudice fuelling Ebola outbreak hysteria in the US?

  • Oscar de la Renta and Oprah WinfreyIn pictures

    The life and work of Oscar de la Renta

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit


  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.