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Cuba launches Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia

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Cuba has begun its own online encyclopedia, similar to Wikipedia, with the goal of presenting its version of the world and history.

It describes its longtime ideological enemy, the United States, as "the empire of our time" and "the most powerful nation of all time."

EcuRed (www.ecured.cu) will be launched officially on Tuesday, but it was already up and running on Monday, with 19,345 entries.

It was developed "to create and disseminate the knowledge of all and for all, from Cuba and with the world," the site said.

Users supposedly will be able to update entries with prior approval from EcuRed administrators.

"Its philosophy is the accumulation and development of knowledge, with a democratizing, not profitable, objective, from a decolonizer point of view," the site said.

Cuba and the United States, where Wikipedia was created, have been at odds since a 1959 revolution put Fidel Castro in power.

EcuRed's entry about the United States said it had historically taken "by force territory and natural resources from other nations, to put at the service of its businesses and monopolies."

"It consumes 25 percent 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."

About U.S.-Cuba relations, it said from early on, U.S. leaders looked upon Cuba "like those who admire a beautiful fruit that will end up falling in their hands."

EcuRed contains an extensive biography of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, including his role after the illness that made him cede power to brother Raul Castro in 2006.

"Today he writes and participates in the struggle of ideas at a global level. For his moral authority, he influences important and strategic decisions of the Revolution," it said.

There is also an article about Raul Castro, who officially replaced his brother as president in 2008 and is described as a "revolutionary combatant, political leader, statesman and military chief."

"He has contributed relevant support to the struggles of the Cuban people in defense of their sovereignty and independence," said the entry.

EcuRed does not yet include mention of economic reforms introduced this year by President Castro to update the Cuban socialist model and that are currently the object of a national debate.

According to a government survey conducted earlier this year, about 1.6 million Cubans, out of 11.2 million population, have access to the Internet.

(Reuters)