Cuba launches online encyclopaedia similar to Wikipedia
Source: BBC News Online, 14 December 2010.
The Cuban government is launching its own online encyclopaedia, similar to Wikipedia, with the goal of presenting its view of the world and history.
The new Spanish language website will be officially launched later on Tuesday but it is already up and running with nearly 20,000 entries on ecured.cu
The site says the aim is to spread knowledge without a profit motive. Updates will apparently be allowed with the administrators' approval but it is not clear who actually runs the site.
Founded in 2001 in Cuba's long-time ideological enemy, the United States, Wikipedia is a multilingual, free-content encyclopaedia. It encourages editorial changes from everybody who comes to the site, although restrictions exist on about 2,000 controversial articles.
Wikipedia has more than 3.5 million entries in English and 682,000 in Spanish, and some attracts 78 million visitors a month.
According to Ecured, it was developed "to create and disseminate the knowledge of all and for all, from Cuba and with the world".
"Its philosophy is the accumulation and development of knowledge, with a democratising, not profitable, objective, from a decolonizer point of view."
The entry on the United States, for example, describes it as the "empire of our time, which has historically taken by force territory and natural resources from other nations, to put at the service of its businesses and monopolies".
"It consumes 25% of the energy produced on the planet and in spite of its wealth, more than a third of its population does not have assured medical attention," the article says.
The BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says relations between these two former Cold War foes have marginally improved under US President Barack Obama, but the decades-long trade embargo remains firmly in place.
Ecured claims that the US has always wanted to take over the Caribbean island. The entry says US leaders have looked upon Cuba "like those who admire a beautiful fruit that will end up falling in their hands".
Fidel Castro, who was succeeded as Cuban president by his brother Raul in 2008, "writes and participates in the struggle of ideas at a global level" and "influences important and strategic decisions of the Revolution". Raul Castro is meanwhile described as a "revolutionary combatant, political leader, statesman and military chief".