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Cuba restricting internet in response to protests: monitor

Cuban authorities have cut access to major social media platforms in an effort to stem the flow of information in the face of anti-government protesters.

People talk near a graffiti with the Cuban flag in a street of Havana, on July 12, 2021.Thousands of Cubans took part in rare protests Sunday against the communist government. - © AFP William WEST
People talk near a graffiti with the Cuban flag in a street of Havana, on July 12, 2021.Thousands of Cubans took part in rare protests Sunday against the communist government. - © AFP William WEST

Cuban authorities have cut access to major social media platforms in an effort to stem the flow of information in the face of anti-government protesters, a web monitoring organization said.

Data from the London-based group NetBlocks showed disruptions from Monday to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and as well as some Telegram servers.

The government is able to cut off access through the state-owned ETECSA (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba) and the sole mobile communications service Cubacel, according to NetBlocks.

NetBlocks said some Cubans were able to get around the restrictions by using virtual private networks, or VPNs.

The clampdown was similar to the social media restrictions during the San Isidro protests for artistic freedom in Havana in November 2020, the group said.

“NetBlocks recommends that governments comply with international norms and internet governance frameworks and ensure reliable internet connectivity including at times of political unrest,” a statement said.

US Representative Maria Elvira Salazar, who represents a district in south Florida home to many Cuban-Americans, said in a tweet that “the regime is shutting off the internet on the island” and “doesn’t want the world to see what’s happening.”

The move is similar to actions taken by other regimes in response to protest movements or to control the flow of pandemic-related information.

Nigeria earlier this year cut off access to Twitter, after the platform was being increasingly used by activists.

The activist group AccessNow has tallied at least 50 internet shutdowns this year including in  Ethiopia, Myanmar and the Indian region Jammu and Kashmir.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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