Decades of isolation from the rest of the world began to take its toll on Cuba. The country financially struggled due to its dramatic throttle of imports and exports. Tourism to Cuba was not allowed, and their economy remained painfully stagnant. Following the death of Fidel Castro, the government decided to open new avenues in an attempt to revitalize the Cuban economy and allow people (and their wallets) to visit the country.
As a part of these measures to expand, the internet finally became accessible in Cuba. Although many average Cuban citizens cannot afford internet access, as it is designed to be cost prohibitive for the working class, those who have found the internet have started using it as a tool to advocate for even more change.
Cuba, the Internet, and Social Causes
Although many Cuban citizens feel that the measures taken by the government to open the country up to the global stage are a step in the right direction, a vocal percentage of the population were quick to recognize these steps as half measures. The position expressed by protestors is clear. The population wants more freedom, true democracy, and the ability to exercise the rights that many people in countries with established democracies are able to exercise.
The internet was the tool that social activists were seeking. Constant communication empowered those who were dissatisfied with the social, economic, and political state of their country to mobilize and share their concerns.
Suddenly, there were demonstrations in the street. This encouraged more people who used to fear the repercussions of the government to join the noise. The turnouts to demonstrations may have exceeded what the government expected, signalling that a significant portion of the population was willing to fight for a new route to the future.
The power of the people significantly outmatched the capabilities of the government. All the government could do was revert or modify freedoms to inhibit open communication, erasing the newfound freedoms that Cuban people were optimistic to finally find.
Cue the Blocks
The Cuban government saw the need for immediate censorship of the internet and harsh punishment for people who violated the government’s standards for what could be regarded as acceptable content. Essentially, the government criminalized criticism. People making posts that painted the government in a bad light are to be forced off of the internet.
Anything the government deems “fake news”, an offensive message, or an attack on the country’s “prestige” is a criminal post. Any attempt to gather or unify demonstrators or protesters is also deemed a criminal action.
The government responded by serving out massive batches of social media blocks. Anyone perceived to have an opinion that differed from the one that the government preferred was unceremoniously tossed off of social media and threatened with consequences.
The Free and Open Internet Can Still Be Accessed from Cuba
Communications that transpire through a stealth protocol VPN like TorGuard cannot be accessed by the Cuban government. VPN traffic is completely secure. Internet service providers, mobile phone service providers, and the government cannot surveil or access data transmitted through a VPN. VPNs are the only saving grace for internet freedom in Cuba.