The Communist party newspaper Granma, also the official voice of the government, reported that the dishes, which provide many Cubans with Spanish-language TV programmes from the exile bastion of Miami, could be used by the US government to broadcast subversive information.

 

The newspaper wrote on Wednesday, nine days after Fidel Castro, the ailing president, temporarily ceded power to his brother: "They are fertile ground for those who want to carry out the Bush administration's plan to destroy the Cuban revolution." 

 

Such articles in Granma usually indicate that action can be expected.

 

Since Castro handed over to Raul on July 31 after undergoing stomach surgery, Cubans have been looking for information.

 

Some had expected word from Daniel Ortega, the former Nicaraguan president, who arrived in Havana on Saturday to visit his old ally. But he shed little light on the situation.

 

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

 

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 US television watched with astonishment as exiles in Miami danced in the streets when they heard that Castro had had surgery and handed over power.

 

Cuba is seen by many in Miami as an authoritarian prison where dissent and economic freedom are brutally quashed. Castro's supporters, on the other hand, see him as a champion of social justice and national pride for standing up to Washington for more than 40 years.

 

Still unseen

   

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 in public.

 

Cuba supported Ortega against
US-backed rebels

Nicaragua's Ortega, whose Sandinista government was backed by Cuba in a civil war against US-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s, declined to say whether he had visited Castro or 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 US 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 clear.

 

While Cubans living on the coast have been told to scan the skies for a US invasion that Washington has assured Cubans it will not stage, the Cuban authorities continued to organise neighbourhood rallies in support of the Castro brothers.