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Last updated at 14:50 BST, Friday, 04 April 2014

US created 'Cuban Twitter'

Summary

4 April 2014

The US created a text message social network designed to cause unrest in Cuba, according to an investigation by the Associated Press news agency. ZunZuneo, called the 'Cuban Twitter', had over 40,000 users in a country with limited access to the internet. The project is thought to have lasted from 2009-2012.

Reporter:

Sarah Rainsford

Havana, Cuba

Access to the internet is limited in Cuba

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Report

ZunZuneo was popular here in Cuba. The service provided news - on sport and culture in particular - straight to subscribers' mobile telephones. But users had no idea they were signing up to a programme created in the United States.

Funded by the US government development agency USAID, ZunZuneo targeted young Cubans in particular. Ultimately, the goal was to send political messages via the network, aimed at provoking a 'Cuban Spring'.

But users told the BBC that the service ended abruptly over a year ago, before they received any kind of political content. Confirming that the project did indeed exist, the White House called ZunZuneo a 'development' programme, intended to help the 'free flow' of information.

But the US has a long history of trying to provoke regime change in Havana: starting with assassination plots against Fidel Castro - then a trade embargo - and more recently, high-tech projects like this one.

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Vocabulary

subscribers

people who choose to receive a service or product regularly, often by paying for it

provoking

causing a reaction, especially an angry or negative one

abruptly

suddenly

content

material such as words, pictures, videos or music that appears on a website or other electronic medium

regime change

a complete change of government, especially one caused by force or by another government

assassination

the murder of a famous or important person

trade embargo

a government order to stop doing business with another country

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