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‘Communism is a failed system’: Cuba cracks down on social media access amid protests

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Cuba has restricted access to social media including Facebook and Whatsapp in the wake of unprecedented anti-government protests

Dozens of people have been arrested in Cuba after thousands joined the biggest protests for decades against the island’s Communist government.

Images on social media showed what appeared to be security forces detaining, beating and pepper-spraying some of the protesters. 

Unauthorised public gatherings are illegal in Cuba and protests are rare.

The White House has offered support to the cuban people calling for freedom, meanwhile Senator Ted Cruz described the protestors as brave.

Cuba is striking back against protesters by barring access to several major social media sites, including Facebook at Whatsapp

The government enacted the ban after huge anti-government demonstrations protesting an economic crisis that’s led to mass power outages and food shortages.

Mobile internet has only been available in Cuba for two years. Many activists agree that the new access to social media in the country has been a major contributing factor to the protests. In Cuba’s capital city, atypical power outages have become increasingly common.

“The pattern of restrictions observed in Cuba indicate an ongoing crackdown on messaging platforms used to organize and share news of protests in real-time,” NetBlocks director Alp Toker told Reuters.

However, the government is yet to confirm or deny whether they are intentionally causing the outages. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the situation is “complicated”.

“Our weapon is the internet. If they take away the internet we are unarmed”

“The government does not want people to see the truth,” said one protester, Gino Ocumares.

Dissident has also been rising in the country over the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and increasing restrictions on civil liberties in the country. However, the Cuban government rejects these claims. Rather, they say the US orchestrated and funded by the demonstrations.

Hundreds took part in these protests, chanting ‘down with communism’ and ‘freedom for the people of Cuba’. One resident said that the protesters were met with gunfire. The activist say the government is using ‘rapid reaction brigades’ to counter the protests. The government organises these groups of civilian fighters.

“I think the Communists have lost control, they won’t have a solution to this situation,” said one of the protesters. “The people are tired of so much humiliation, so much repression.”

https://twitter.com/MaElviraSalazar/status/1415138762330361856?s=20

Counter pro-government rallies

Protests such as these are rare in a country such as Cuba, which has a tight handle on expression of public dissent. State-run media report that at least one man died at the protests. Several people also sustained serious injuries. Although the state has confirmed no other deaths, the number is likely higher.

However, many counter-rallies have also been taking place across the country. Around 100 supporters carrying the Cuban flag gathered in one of these demonstrations yesterday.

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

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