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Anti-government action not goal of 'Cuban Twitter'

Published on Apr 9, 2014 2:17 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The social network set up as a form of Twitter in Cuba was not designed to foment dissent against Havana's communist government, the head of the US agency behind it said on Tuesday.

Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, appeared before a Senate subcommittee to discuss the agency's US$20 billion (S$25 billion) budget but some of the questioning focused on the social network ZunZuneo that USAID launched in Cuba in 2010.

Last week, a lengthy report by the Associated Press said ZunZuneo, which took its name from Cuban slang for a hummingbird's tweet and was similar to the US-based Twitter network, had been set up as a tool for mobilising demonstrations in Cuba.

Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, called ZunZuneo a "cockamamie idea" that endangered Alan Gross, 64, an American who is serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba after being arrested in 2009 while working for USAID there.

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