Cuba’s dictatorship using gag law to silence critics of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic

Under socialism, what you think and what you say is controlled by the State. Anyone who dares to do otherwise, or worse, criticize the state, will suffer the consequences.

Claudia Padrón Cueto writes at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting:

Cuba Gags Coronavirus Critics

Legislation used to intimidate those highlighting government mishandling of the emergency.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Cuba is ramping up its use of a gag law that penalises citizens for expressing critical opinions on social media.

An increasing number of journalists and activists who have criticized Havana’s handling of the crisis have found themselves taken in for interrogation and fined, as well as often having their computers or phones confiscated.

Decree 370 classifies disseminating “information contrary to social interest, moral values and the integrity of all individuals” on the internet as a misdemeanor and mandates fines of up to 3,000 pesos, an amount four times the country’s average monthly salary. It also allows for the confiscation of all equipment needed to connect to the internet. In practical terms, this prevents journalists from doing their work.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel signed the decree in December 2018, 11 days after his government allowed access to the Internet using mobile data. Until then, most people in Cuba could only connect to the internet in the using wifi areas in public parks. According to official data, around 3.4 million Cubans now use mobile data.

Lawyer and human rights activist Laritza Diversent said that the decree was approved to “control the country’s cyberspace”.

However, the government only started to apply the new regulations seriously at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 85 per cent of the fines imposed dating back to last March. At least 28 people have punished for their posts on social media platforms, most of them journalists and activists.

Journalists publishing stories about the severe shortages of food and other essential products have found themselves taken in for questioning, fined and warned off further critical comment.

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1 thought on “Cuba’s dictatorship using gag law to silence critics of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic”

  1. Gag laws (in Cuba) do NOT matter. It just hit me: if this blog restricted itself to issues that matter (to the usual suspects), it would have nothing to post about and would cease to exist.

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