Regarding recent news in Cuba, there is virtually none. It has been difficult for the international community to keep up with the Cubanos because the government has a tight leash on who gets internet access, journalistic rights, and even humanitarian information. The smokescreen of a vacation hot spot that Cuba holds up covers the shady reality that is the island’s censorship crisis. The following three episodes of Keeping Up with the Cubanos will introduce you to the main characters of Cuba’s censorship crisis:

Episode 1: Access to the internet

Internet access has been limited to private businesses since 2013 when the government allowed citizens to buy routers sold by a telecommunication firm run by none other than the Cuban government itself. Before 2013 and even to this day, people have been reported to swarm and loiter in front of private businesses that do have routers that provide access to the internet. There have also been reports of underground router sellers which provide access to the internet. Since that 2013 expansion, there have been little to no further expansions on internet access island wide.

Although there have been small strides from the Cuban government in loosening certain internet access restrictions, the long history of limitations and continuous restrictions holds up to this day. Barely any major news networks or information hubs have any articles or news regarding Cuba’s state of being outside of stories that will be mentioned throughout each episode in this article.

Episode 2: Humanitarian, LGBTQ+ Rights, and Artists

As a result of the Cuban government’s internet limitations, humanitarian activists and independent international human rights monitors also get limited information on the island’s whereabouts. This is concerning because of how the little virtual connection there is to the rest of the world. If any humanitarian crisis were to occur, it would take a long time for the international community and journalists or news outlets to have the means of recognizing that situation.

The Cuban constitution does explicitly state that there is freedom of expression, however, this promised right is not fulfilled as in recent years artists and journalists have put behind bars for expressing themselves and criticizing the government through their chosen medium. Furthermore, the government’s shut down of a Gay Pride March in Havana with at least four arrests occurring in 2019, makes the constitution’s claim to preserve these rights slightly questionable.

Episode 3: The Pandemic and a Migrant Rafting Crisis

There is clearly a fire behind the smoke of censorship as Cuban citizens have been fleeing the island to cross United States borders as far back as the Obama administration. Throughout the pandemic, the economic flow has been cut down along with travel within the common vacation spot and as a result, many resources have become scarce causing Cubans to feel the need to jump ship in hopes of access those resources and work to provide for their families. Some migrants have managed to flee the island by various means of travel, including rafts. However, these rafts have been proven to be unstable as five migrants drowned while sailing in the gulf with the intention of finding resources and work to provide for their families in the United States.

The frequency at which similar crises such that as the rafting crisis has prompted the United States to open communication with the Cuban government. Even though leaders of Cuba and the United States have been in contact, there is not a lot of promise in a largely collaborative effort from the leaders.

Post Show Binge Chat:
Which episode did you find to be the shadiest?

How do you believe the Cuban government will approach new mediums of expression as internet access increases?

What other news have you heard in regarding the rafting crisis?

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Nicole-Antoinette Urbina-Ruiz
Nicole-Antoinette is Wafi Media's Editor in Chief and a senior at McDaniel College. She will be graduating this Spring with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science specializing in International Studies. She also works at the McDaniel College Writing Center as an Associate Peer Tutor. Outside of her work with Wafi and college life, Nicole-Antoinette is an avid singer, runner and outspoken advocate for the Latine and immigrant community. Nicole-Antoinette is passionate about issues relating to immigration, human rights, social justice, and latino culture. She hopes to attend and earn a JD at law school in order to serve the immigrant community through her practice of law.