Cuba’s Internet and Journalism Blackout

From a post on the Columbia Journalism Review’s The Media Today by Jon Allsop headlined “Cuba’s internet and journalism blackout”:

On Tuesday, Dina Fernandez, a Cuban YouTuber who goes by the name Dina Stars, was doing an interview on Todo Es Mentira, a Spanish TV show, at her home in Havana. She heard a knock on the door. Stars told Marta Flich, the show’s host, that state security officials were outside. As she went to talk to them, someone filmed discreetly from a bedroom. After a few moments, Stars entered the bedroom, sat down on a bed, and told Flich that the officials were taking her away. “On live television, I hold the government responsible for anything that could happen to me,” she said. “I have to go.”

Stars was on Spanish TV, and had been on other international networks before that, to talk about protests that have shaken Cuba since Sunday, when thousands of people took to the streets in outrage against the government and deteriorating economic conditions. Cuba tends to treat dissent with an iron fist, and these demonstrations had been the biggest in years. Stars was in the streets on Sunday, and uploaded videos of the protests online. Not long ago, that would have been impossible: for years, Cuba restricted the internet, and only began to liberalize access in the past decade. In 2015, the government installed a few dozen hotspots in public spaces; 3G mobile plans were authorized in 2018, and home WiFi networks were legalized a year later. The access to 3G, in particular, has been a key driver of the recent protests, as demonstrators livestream to social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook, and coordinate their activities via encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal. 3G access has “supercharged horizontal communications between emergent civil society groups,” Ted Henken, a Cuba expert at Baruch College, wrote for Slate—eroding “the two key pillars of information control essential to the survival of all totalitarian regimes: fear of the consequences of speaking truth to power, and isolation from others who harbor similar frustrations.”…

Speak Your Mind