Cuba is accused of having adopted China-made technology systems to control and block internet access, amid reports that messaging apps and Cubans’ internet service are being blocked in the communist-ruled country after thousands of citizens took to the streets on July 11 to protest against a lack of freedoms and worsening economic conditions.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned in a July 11 statement on Twitter that the Cuban regime would “block internet & cell phone service soon to prevent videos about what is happening to get out to the world.”
Later in the day, he wrote: “I warned about this earlier today. It is happening and will continue. … By the way, they use a system made, sold, & installed by #China to control and block access to the internet in #Cuba.”
The Chinese Communist Party is a close ally and supporter of the Cuban regime.
Thousands of Cuban citizens took to the streets in several cities spanning the communist Caribbean island on July 11, calling for greater freedoms and an end to the communist dictatorship. They also protested against ongoing food shortages and high food prices amid worsening economic conditions in the country, made worse by the pandemic.
According to The Associated Press, protesters gathered at rallying points shared on popular social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Authorities then began shutting down internet services in some cities on the afternoon of July 11 to prevent dissidents from broadcasting the protests live, the news agency reported.
The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), a global internet censorship watchdog, reported on July 12 that Cuba had begun blocking WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal messaging apps amid the protests.
Alp Toker, director of Netblocks, a London-based internet monitoring firm, told The Associated Press that Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Telegram had been blocked. Twitter didn’t appear to be blocked, but Toker said that the regime could cut it off if it wishes to do so.