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Internet fireworks protest draws Havana crowds

posted 12 Aug 2012, 11:10 by Mpelembe   [ updated 12 Aug 2012, 11:12 ]

Cubans gather to watch fireworks display launched by flotilla to protest lack of internet access on the communist-run island.

Havana residents were largely unimpressed on Saturday night (August 11) with a fireworks display launched by a flotilla of boats to protest the lack of internet access in Cuba.
The flotilla, which was organised by the Miami-based Democracy Movement, set off its fireworks about 12 miles off the coast of Havana, just outside Cuban waters.

"Whoever is Cuban and is a revolutionary and understands what the revolution is cannot believe in any of this," said Victor Ayala, a fisherman who stopped to watch the display with his wife on Havana's famed sea-front avenue, the Malecon.

"I see it as something from carnival, it has more to do with carnival, with happiness. This message is not reaching me through fireworks," added Laura Gomez, another Havana resident.

There is no broadband Internet in Cuba and the relatively few Internet users suffer through agonizingly long waits to open emails, let alone view a photo or video.

Cuba blames the United States embargo for denying access to underwater cables, saying it must use a satellite system and is limited in the space it can buy.

In February 2011, a fibre optic cable was laid from Venezuela to Cuba to provide download speeds 3,000 times faster than Cuba's current Internet. But to date there is no evidence the cable is operational and the government and state-run media have remained quiet on the matter.

Cuba's government has labelled the Democracy Movement flotillas a provocation and has warned against any violations of crossing into Cuban territory.