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Cuba and Venezuela to lay undersea Internet cable

Cuba is teaming up with Venezuela to lay fiber-optic cable to bring high-speed Internet access to the island nation, according to documents recently made public.

A new undersea fiber-optic cable being laid between Cuba and Venezuela will help provide high-speed Internet access to Cuban citizens by 2010.

Earlier this week, Wikileaks published documents that were signed in 2006 by officials in Cuba and Venezuela describing plans for the new undersea cable that will connect the two countries.

The United States economic embargo against the island nation has forced the communist country to rely on slow and expensive satellite links for Internet connectivity, according to the Wikileaks article. Even though it would cost less and be more efficient to lay a new cable between Cuba and the U.S., which are only 120 kilometers apart, Cuba is working with Venezuela to lay a 1,500-kilometer cable to get high-speed Internet connectivity.

The proposed cable, which is being deployed by CVG Telecom (Corporacion Venezolana de Guyana) and ETC (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba), will also provide high-speed Internet access to Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad.

According to the Wikileaks article, the new undersea cable is being built as a strategic partnership between Cuba and Venezuela to encourage an interchange between the two governments; foster science, cultural and social development; and increase economic relationships among Cuba, its South American neighbors, and the rest of the world.

Cuba has traditionally kept a tight lid on Internet access in the country. In 2003, the government cracked down on ordinary Cuban citizens, who were accessing the Internet over the government's painfully slow phone network.

But recently since Raul Castro has taken power from his brother Fidel Castro, the government has loosened many restrictions on average citizens. In March, a ban prohibiting ordinary citizens from owning cell phones was lifted. And in May, the Associated Press reported that Cubans are now allowed to buy desktop PCs.