Things That Matter

Now That Cuba Has Allowed Social Media Access, Government Officials Are Blocking Those Who Criticize Them

While internet access is still relatively new in Cuba, there has already been some controversy when it comes to citizens criticizing public officials online. According to the Miami Herald, Twitter users have seen some of their profiles and comments regarding government officials blocked or removed altogether. Twitter users took to social media to voice their concern about having their voices and comments silenced by public officials.

Limited internet access in Cuba began in 2008 but it wasn’t until last December when mobile phones became readily available.

Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel promoted the idea of having a platform where Cuban officials and regular citizens could interact. With such a relatively new technology at the hands of public officials, they have swayed away from criticism. With internet access and Wi-Fi hotspots just becoming accessible to all on the island, many are getting their feet wet when it comes to social media. That includes government and public officials.

Jovann Silva Delgado, a Cuban lawyer who lives in the U.S, was recently blocked online by José Ramón Cabañas, the ambassador of Cuba in Washington. Silva says he was blocked by Cabañas because he criticized a protest last year initiated by the Cuban delegation at the United Nations.

“Beyond the political position of a public official, who holds a post presumably supported by voters, the social media networks of officials are to give an account of their management, which is paid with everyone’s money,” Silva told the Miami Herald.

This issue has been happening to multiple people trying to interact with public officials in Cuba.

Another user, Norges Rodríguez, founder of YucaByte, an online project on communication technology, said he was blocked. Rodríguez found out he was blocked by Jorge Luis Perdomo, minister of communications in Cuba, after trying to mention him in a tweet.

“Well, today I tried to mention the minister [of communications] in a tweet and I found out that I am blocked. I think I was respectful the last time I mentioned him,“ Rodríguez said in a tweet.

The Inventory project, a repository of open data for Cuba, is trying to list the names of Cuban officials who block citizens on social media.

The Inventory Project, invited users who have been blocked by public officials to give info on who blocked them to create a larger database. The Twitter profile asked users to provide a tweet with the the name of the user, the person who blocked, the date and a screenshot of the message that was blocked.

There has already been a long list of officials who have been reported for blocking citizens. Among them are National Assembly member Mariela Castro, daughter of former president Raúl Castro and Juan Antonio Fernández, ambassador of Cuba in Austria.

Just last May, a U.S. judge banned public officials from blocking those who criticize them online.

In the U.S., it’s a complete different story when it comes to citizens criticizing public officials. Last May, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said that officials like President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked Twitter users who criticized him. The ruling was a victory for free speech and a harsh rebuke to Trump’s effort to prevent his critics from engaging with him on social media.

While there has been no law or ruling similar in Cuba, you can only expect some kind of action to be taken eventually. Social media interactions between citizens and public officials is still relatively new in Cuba but that gives no excuse to silence voices. Especially those trying to create public dialogue with leaders and government officials.

READ: Here’s A Brief Look At The History Of The Cuban People And The Island They Call Home

Lea Michele Half-Apologizes For Subjecting Former Co-Star To Relentless Microagressions

Entertainment

Lea Michele Half-Apologizes For Subjecting Former Co-Star To Relentless Microagressions

Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

The world is watching and reacting as the investigation into the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Activists have been raising their voices and organizing to maintain and grow sustained protests around the world demanding justice. Celebrities have been swept up in the anger and protest as well and, for some, it has backfired.

Former “Glee” star Lea Michele tweeted about the death of George Floyd.

Michele joined the trend of celebrities who have started to join in the protests against racial injustice inflicted by police in the U.S. Even major corporations joined the Black Lives Matter conversation after being silent for years with many participating in #BlackOutTuesday. Yet, Michele is facing accusations of her own microaggressions against former co-stars.

Samantha Ware had issues with Michele’s tweet of solidarity.

Ware played Jane Hayward in the sixth season of “Glee” and accused Michele of microaggressions. The microaggressions were relentless and traumatic enough to make Ware’s tenure on the show “a living hell.”

Ware’s response immediately rang true for so many who have faced a lifetime of microaggressions.

Microaggressions are a major issue in everyday life for people of color. They are defined as verbal, behavioral, or environmental things that have underlying hostile and prejudice roots. They are things like assuming that a Black woman is wearing a wig or locking your car doors when a Black person walks by you.

Dabier Snell also spoke up about Michele’s behavior.

Snell continued with a second tweet explaining that he is always here to make content that people will enjoy. He tries to stray away from creating anything negative in the world. However, according to Snell, seeing Michele’s tweet for George Floyd brought back bad memories of her treating him as less than while on set.

Another “Glee” co-star, Alex Newell, echoed Snell and Ware.

Three of Michele’s co-stars have come forward to call her out in public because of how she treated people. All three have been Black actors who have accused the actor of treating them with no respect and lodging microaggressions against them.

Some people are doing the work and reminding us that Naya Rivera tried to call Michele out first.

In her memoir “Sorry Not Sorry,” Rivera recounted how Michele treated her while they were on “Glee.” Rivera did not hold back when she described Michele’s reaction as Santana Lopez became a more and more important character in the “Glee” universe.

“As Santana moved from a background character to one with bigger plot lines and more screen time. I think Rachel – erm, I mean Lea – didn’t like sharing the spotlight,” reads the memoir. “If I’d complained about anyone or anything, she’d assumed I was bitching about her. Soon, she started to ignore me, and eventually it got to the point where she didn’t say a word to me for all of season 6.”

Michele offered a half-apology to address the accusations while admitting to them at the same time.

“While I don’t remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of their skin, that’s not really the point, what matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people. Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times or whether it was just my immaturity and me just being unnecessarily difficult, I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused,” reads part of the statement. “We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings.”

Her apology sparked more backlash from people who claim to have been part of the “Glee” cast and crew.

Credit: leamichele / Instagram

Other people have commented on her apology claiming that she is not really apologizing if she claims not to remember. Others are frustrated that Michele is apologizing for how people have perceived her words, not for the words itself.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Memoir Talks About Abortion And Anorexia

Turns Out ‘Machete’ Director Robert Rodriguez Is Behind ‘Rain On Me’

Entertainment

Turns Out ‘Machete’ Director Robert Rodriguez Is Behind ‘Rain On Me’

As a director, Robert Rodriguez never fails to deliver.

From the hits of the”Spy Kids” franchise to “Machete”, the seasoned Mexican-American filmmaker has built a career on high-action movies that always deliver colorful punches. It’s why, when it was recently revealed that he added Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s latest music video collaboration to his lineup of films we were pretty surprised. And awestruck.

“Rain on Me,” is the latest Gaga X Ariana Grande collab to go viral and the first music video to be directed by Rodriguez.

Over the weekend, the second single from Gaga’s upcoming sixth studio album Chromatica dropped much to the delight of fans. The song, which visits the genres of dance-pop, disco, house, and electropop has been described by Gaga as a “celebration of tears” and has already received quite a bit of praise from users online. According to Rolling Stone, “In addition to Grande, the 16-song Chromatica will also feature contributions from Elton John and South Korean group Blackpink.”

Of course, over the weekend, fans could not get enough of the video.

Or the chemistry between the collaborators.

Check out the music video below.