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US increasingly using new media to reach Cuba

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LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ | May 3, 2011 04:36 PM EST | AP

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MIAMI — The Office of Cuba Broadcasting in Miami has added several "ghost" websites to its portfolio, allowing people in Cuba to view the U.S. government's Marti networks online without being detected by their government.

The Cuban government controls the island's local media and limits access to outside sources. Radio Marti provides news from inside Cuba, particularly about dissidents and other issues the government there does not cover, as well as global news, and can be heard in a number of places around the island. But the government there often jams TV Marti.

The websites went up two weeks ago and received roughly 1,000 hits from Cuba, the U.S. and Ira. It's a tiny number, though the launch was done with little fanfare. U.S. officials said they were unsure as to who is viewing the sites from Iran.

The problem remains, though, that most Cubans don't have access to the Internet, and those that do have to negotiate a system that has a limited capacity, making online traffic extremely slow.

Cuba Broadcasting Director Carlos Garcia-Perez said the agency is also texting in four messages a day to the island through online phone servers like Skype that do not identify the text message sender as being from the Martis. A text sent at 1 a.m. Monday alerted Cubans that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting says it will change the websites and the phone servers frequently to avoid being blocked by the Cuban government.