Cuban authorities have shut down Internet connections in an apparent effort to prevent protests after thousands of people protested against food shortages, power outages and coronavirus restrictions.
“There is no internet.” No one, anywhere. People are trying to use the app, “said Isabel, a Havana resident. The London-based NetBlocks Internet Observatory said restrictions on social networking and messaging in Cuba continued Tuesday.
Communist Cuba was one of the last countries in the world to open up to the internet, allowing it on mobile phones only a few years ago. Home broadband remains rare, although the state-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA claims that about 60 percent of the population has some type of access to the web.
Cuba last shut down the Internet in November after hundreds of people he protested before the Ministry of Culture demanding greater freedom.
Since then ETECSA has intermittently also systematically cut off dissident phones and internet connections.
Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuban president and leader of the Communist Party, said in two television broadcasts that the anti-government protests on Sunday they were aired on social media from outside the United States and by Cuban exiles who tried to overthrow the government.
“In recent weeks, the campaign on social media against the Cuban revolution has grown,” Diaz-Canel said Monday. “[It is] trying to create dissatisfaction by manipulating emotions and feelings on social networks about the problems the population has ”.
The government has said nothing about stopping the communications, which appear to be intended to make it difficult for the protesters ’organization and other countries to understand what is happening.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, appealed to Cuban authorities to lift restrictions on the internet, saying they had been imposed by the government in response to the protests.
“We call on Cuba’s leaders to express their restraint, to demand respect for the voice of the people by learning all means of communication, both online and offline,” he said.
“Closure of technology, closure of information channels, which does nothing to respond to the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Cuban people.”
Cuba’s roads have been quieter since Sunday afternoon, but at least two small protests have apparently been held in the outlying areas of Havana. There have also been reports of arrests despite the difficulty of being able to confirm them.
Cubalex, a U.S.-based human rights group, said that since Sunday morning it had, in collaboration with journalists and activists, “received information and recorded the arrest or disappearance of 148 people, 12 of whom have been released.” .
“Of the 136 people, it has been confirmed that 46 were arrested on July 11 and nine on July 12, the majority were arrested at their home or leaving them,” the group said.
Cubalex said it had not been able to confirm reports of deaths or serious injuries among protesters.