Cuba warns on pirate TV...

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HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's government signaled a crackdown on Wednesday on black-market satellite dishes on which its citizens get news from the United States, nine days after ailing President Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma warned that the dishes, on which many Cubans receive Spanish-language TV programs from the exile bastion of Miami, could be used by the U.S. government to broadcast subversive information.

"They are fertile ground for those who want to carry out the Bush administration's plan to destroy the Cuban revolution," said the newspaper, the official voice of the government. Such articles in Granma usually signal that action can be expected.

Since Castro provisionally relinquished power to his brother Raul Castro on July 31 after undergoing stomach surgery, Cubans have been anxious for information.

Some had expected word from former Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who arrived in Havana on Saturday to visit his old ally, but he shed no light to reporters on Wednesday.

U.S.-funded TV and Radio Marti, not available on commercial satellite, have pumped up their output of anti-Castro programming, but few Cubans are believed to have access to them because of successful jamming by the Cuban government.

But there may be as many as 10,000 illegal TV satellite dishes in Cuba, each one linked to perhaps hundreds of televisions by cables their owners snake over rooftops and between buildings, charging other users $10 a month.

Many who get black-market U.S. television watched with astonishment as exiles in Miami danced in the streets when they heard on July 31 that Fidel Castro had undergone surgery and handed over power.

Castro's communist Cuba is widely viewed in Miami as an authoritarian prison where dissent and economic freedom are brutally quashed. Castro's supporters view him as a champion of social justice and national pride for standing up to Washington for more than four decades.


Cuban officials say Castro, who will be 80 on Sunday, is recovering and should be back in charge within weeks. But neither he nor his brother has been seen.

Nicaragua's Ortega, whose Sandinista government was backed by Cuba in a civil war against U.S.-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s, declined to say whether he had actually visited Castro or even spoken to him by telephone.

Ortega used the news conference to voice support for Havana's campaign to seek the release of five Cubans jailed in the United States for spying on militant anti-Castro groups in Miami, ostensibly to prevent acts of violence against Cuba.

"This struggle is led by Fidel. He is accompanying us here," Ortega said.

Sources close to the Sandinista party in Managua said Ortega had not been able to see Castro since arriving in Havana on Saturday. The reason was not immediately clear.

While Cuban coastal residents have been told to scan the skies for a U.S. invasion that Washington has assured Cubans it will not stage, Cuban authorities continued to organize neighborhood rallies in support of the Castro brothers.

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