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Cuban singer wants free internet for the developing world

Making the internet more accessible to developing countries is a cause Cuban folk star Silvio Rodriguez has targeted at US President Barack Obama and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. On Monday, the celebrity famed for his style of music in the post-Cuban revolution era, says providing free internet to developing countries is a moral issue.

“It’s a simple proposal: the world is very unequal, and a lot of pain could be avoided with action that could turn into a worldwide qualitative step forward,” Rodriguez said in a blog post.

“I am sure that it is something within reach of privileged minds (and budgets).

“So you owners of the internet and President Obama: build a satellite network to give free internet to the developing world,” the 63-year-old singer said.

Earlier this month, the communist government hailed a new undersea fiber optic cable connecting it to socialist ally Venezuela, in an effort to strike a blow to the decades-old US embargo.

Despite the revamped access, authorities say internet use will be restricted. This limit means the internet must preferably be used for what the state terms “social” purposes, while priority would be given to a limited set of users in universities and other educational institutions.

Deputy Minister of Information Jorge Luis Perdomo insisted earlier this month that “there is no political obstacle” to internet access in Cuba.

But the opposition and dissidents in exile charge the government is imposing ideological restrictions that aim to maintain authorities’ control on sources of information and expression. The Chinese Communist Party has been the subject of numerous assaults on internet freedom, while Cuban-ally Venezuela has come further scrutiny for censorship.

Under new regulations in Venezuala, all internet traffic is supposed to pass through a single, government-controlled access point, stoking opposition fears about surveillance and censorship from the ruling Socialist Party.

This is is not the first time proposals linking the internet and the developing world have surfaced. In a separate case, the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) is pushing hard to impose global consumer taxes to help fund its various programs, including a new proposal that would tax the internet in order to pay for vaccines and other pharmaceutical medicines for third-world countries.