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Online revolution

Online revolutionImage copyright Noam Galai/Getty Image caption Cubazon's Bernardo Romero Gonzalez is counting on the Cuban diaspora to help grow his business

As the internet becomes more widespread in Cuba, online start-ups are emerging. But the problems many of the companies hope to address are also a reminder of how far the island has to go.

Bernardo Romero Gonzalez, a 33-year-old software engineer from Cuba, launched his new business this month: a website where people can order island-made products such as soap, bouquets of flowers and cakes for home delivery.

"It's like Amazon for Cuba, but with a difference," he told an audience of New York techies at a conference this month.

The summary was a classic start-up pitch, but it also underscored the obstacles when it comes to starting an online business in the Caribbean country.

Mr Gonzalez is counting on buyers from the Cuban diaspora, which already plays a role in the economy, sending money and other products to the island.

But the infrastructure doesn't exist for domestic buyers to sustain the market.

Growing internet

Internet access among Cuba's 11.2 million people is growing.

Between 2013 and 2015, the share of the Cuban population using the internet jumped from about a quarter to more than 35%, according to estimates from the International Telecommunications Union.

The growing market has helped draw the attention of internet giants, such as Airbnb, Netflix and Google, which installed servers on the island and started hosting data there last month.

The rise is also fuelling activity among local entrepreneurs, who are launching domestic versions of sites such as the crowd-review business directory Yelp.

But there's a long way to go.

Image copyright ADALBERTO ROQUE/Getty Image caption Public wi-fi hotspots remain the primary way for Cubans to access the internet

'Third world conditions'

Less than 6% of Cuban households had internet access at home in 2015, one of the lowest rates in the western hemisphere, according to the ITU. (In the UK, that figure tops 91%.)

Wi-fi hotspots in parks and other public places operated by the state-run telecom company remain the primary way to log on.

Service at the hotspots is often slow, expensive and selective, with the government restricting access to the full range of internet sites.

The constraints are shaping the emerging Cuban start-ups.

At this month's TechCrunch conference in New York, Mr Gonzalez shared a stage with Kewelta, a firm focusing on advertising within decentralised online and offline networks, and Knales, which provides updates on weather, news and other events via text messages and phone calls.

Image copyright Noam Galai/Getty Image caption Knales co-founder Diana Elianne Benitez Perera called Cubans 'disrupters by definition'

Knales co-founder Diana Elianne Benitez Perera told the audience that "Cubans are disrupters by definition. We always find the way to have first world conditions with third world conditions."

'Change in the air'

The government in recent years has taken some steps to boost internet access, increasing wi-fi hotspots in parks and other places, lowering prices and experimenting with

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Brazil president retreats from attempts to suspend investigation

Brazil president retreats from attempts to suspend investigationImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Temer was elected as vice-president in 2014 and replaced Dilma Rousseff a year ago

Brazil's President Michel Temer has asked the Supreme Court to proceed with an investigation against him for obstruction of justice and corruption.

His lawyers say that a secret recording that appears to incriminate him has been edited 70 times.

On Saturday Mr Temer filed a petition at the Supreme Court to have the investigation suspended.

But his lawyers now say they want the investigation to go ahead to have the president's name cleared.

His legal team hired an audio expert, who concluded that the tape would not stand up as evidence in a court of law.

"We want this investigation to be concluded as soon as possible," said one of his lawyers, Gustavo Guedes.

"The only evidence against him, the recording, is useless," added Mr Guedes.

Hush money

Contents of the tape were first released on Brazilian media on Wednesday, causing major political and economic turmoil.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Joesley Batista admitted paying millions in bribes to officials

President Temer was secretly recorded by Joesley Batista, president of Brazilian giant meat-packing firm JBS, during a late-night, unscheduled meeting.

The wealthy businessman made the recording as part of a plea bargain with the prosecutor's office.

On the tape, Mr Temer seems to signal his approval for illegal payments to the former speaker of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, who was jailed for corruption last year.

According to Mr Batista, Cunha was being paid 1 million reais ($300,000; £235,000) a month in exchange for his silence regarding the involvement of other politicians, including Mr Temer, in Brazil's wide-ranging corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash.

The probe, launched in March 2014, centres on companies that were offered deals with state oil giant Petrobras in exchange for bribes, which were funnelled into politicians' pockets and political party slush funds.

Many expected the president to resign once the contents of the tape were made public.

But he has made it clear that he will fight to serve out his term, which ends on 31 December 2018.

'Admission of guilt'

"I have never bought anyone's silence, haven't obstructed justice and haven't done anything against the judiciary," Mr Temer said in the televised address at the presidential palace on Saturday.

Image copyright EPA Image caption "Temer out, elections now," reads the banner held during a protest in Sao Paulo.

"I will not resign. I repeat: I will not resign," he said on national television.

In an interview with Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper published on Monday, Mr Temer said that he had been naive by agreeing to meet Mr Batista in those circumstances.

But he insisted that he had not broken the law and that his support in Congress remained strong.

"I will not resign. Oust me if you want, but stepping down would be an admission of guilt," he said.

Mr Temer is already deeply unpopular in Brazil but his

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Haitians who came after earthquake granted six-month extension

Haitians who came after earthquake granted six-month extensionImage copyright...

Mexican Tarahumara woman wins 50km race wearing only sandals

María Lorena Ramírez at the podiumImage copyright...
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