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Raul Castro's daughter opens Twitter account, gets into war of words with dissident
HAVANA (AP) ' Raul Castro's daughter and an anti-government Cuban blogger have engaged in a prickly back-and-forth on Twitter, which has a small but growing presence on the island despite scarce Internet connectivity.
Mariela Castro's debut on the social media service began smoothly enough when she sent her first tweets Tuesday talking about a visit to the Netherlands and her work as the country's leading gay rights activist.
Then dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez fired the first salvo.
"They tell me Mariela Castro opened a Twitter account," Sanchez wrote. "A question for her, 'When will we Cubans be able to come out of other closets?'"
Two more tweets directed at the first daughter quickly followed: "Welcome to the plurality of Twitter ... here nobody can shut me up, deny me permission to travel or impede entrance," and "How can one ask for acceptance only in one area? Is tolerance total or not?"
Castro, who is the head the National Sex Education Center, shot back at Sanchez by name, saying, "Your approach to tolerance reproduces the old mechanisms of power. To improve your 'services' you should study."
Later, she grumbled about "despicable parasites" criticizing her on Twitter: "Were you ordered by your employers to respond to me in unison and with the same predetermined script? Be creative."
Cuba accuses dissidents like Sanchez of being mercenaries in the hire of Washington.
On Wednesday Sanchez tweeted, "I would love it if everyone on the (Communist Party's) Central Committee got on Twitter. We would tell them in the virtual world what they don't let us in the real one."
"Good for them to get practice with plurality starting now on Twitter, soon the day will arrive when they will have to deal with it in reality," read a second missive.
Their exchange is unlikely to be noticed by many in Cuba, where the decades-old U.S. economic embargo has left the island without a hardwired Internet connection to the rest of the world.
Cuba relies on plodding, expensive satellite service and Internet access is rare and costly, though hopes for faster service arrived earlier this year along with an undersea fiber-optic cable from Venezuela.
Authorities previously said the cable could be operational as early as July, but there has been no official word since and no noticeable improvement in Internet speeds.