Cuba's government is being accused of censoring text messages in an attempt to suppress opposition to its new proposed constitution.
Hearing that text messages with hashtags opposing the new constitution were being blocked, Eduardo Sanchez, 23, decided to test it out for himself, WPLG Local 10 reports. Sanchez posted a screenshot on Twitter showing several text messages he claims he sent and a screenshot of ones he claims were actually delivered.
Text messages containing pro-constitution hashtags, such as “#YoVotoSi” (I Vote Yes) and “#SomosContinuidad” (We Are Continuity), were successfully delivered, he says, while text messages containing opposition slogans, such as “#YoVotoNo” (I Vote No) and “Abstencion” (Abstention), were not.
In his tweet, Sanchez wrote that he believes ETECSA, the state-run telecommunications company, is to blame.
If enacted, the constitution would ensure that the Communist Party faces no opposition since it is the “superior political power of society and of the State.” An older draft from July included no mention of communism, but it was later added back in after concern from citizens, according to state-run media.
The draft for the proposed constitution includes several new provisions, including creating a Prime Minister position that will be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the National Assembly, the Miami Herald reports.
The constitution has been widely praised for seemingly starting to acknowledge private property, but in reality, the most recent draft will only allow property to be owned at the discretion of a state regulator on a case-by-case basis, The New York Times notes.
A provision of the draft that has been denounced by Amnesty International requires approval for art and performances to determine if the content misuses “patriotic symbols” or is “immoral or vulgar.”
The constitution was recently approved by the National Assembly and could be ratified if approved by a referendum on February 24.
Cubans were only first allowed to use cellphones in 2008 and were reportedly given 3G mobile service last month by the state-run telecommunications company, which has so far only provided enough cellphone towers for 66% of the population.
WiFi packages are also offered to Cubans by the government, with packages ranging from $7 for 600 megabytes to $30 for 4 gigabytes of data. With Cuba’s average monthly salary at just $30, many Cubans can only afford the lower-priced package, which isn't enough to watch a single hour of Netflix with standard definition.
Cuba recently celebrated its 60-year-anniversary of adopting communism after the now-deceased dictator Fidel Castro took over the country. Under Castro’s reign the government imprisoned, tortured, and murdered thousands of people. "Castro jailed and tortured political prisoners at a higher [per capita] rate than Stalin during the Great Terror" and "murdered more Cubans in his first three years in power than Hitler murdered Germans during his first six," Humberto Fontova writes.
The constitution has been paraded as a way for Cuba to adapt to the modern age, but it doesn't look like much progress is coming anytime soon to the communist-controlled island.