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

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In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Culture

In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Photo via Getty Images

COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for Cubans. Not only have Cubans been physically affected by the virus like the rest of the world, but the drop in the island’s gross domestic product has stymied local economic productivity. The island can no longer look to tourism to add to their GDP.

Because of this drop in GDP, food shortages on the island have become more severe than in recent memory. And Cuban cooks are feeling the effects.

Cubans must stand in line for hours at markets with no guarantees that the ingredients that they want will be available.

This way of living is especially hard for Cuban cooks, like 39-year-old Yuliet Colón. For Colón, cooking is both a creative expression and a stress reliever. “The kitchen is my happy place, where I am calmer and I feel better,” she recently revealed to the Associated Press.

Yuliet Colón is one of the creators of a Facebook page called Recetas del Corazón that has changed the cooking game for thousands of Cubans.

Now, thanks to Colón and other curious and generous Cuban cooks like her, Recipes from the Heart is now 12,000 members strong.

The goal of the page is to help struggling Cuban cooks cope with food shortages. Members of the page share creative recipes, tips, and food substitutions. Launched in June of 2020, the page was an instant success. Its success proves that Cubans have been desperate to find ways to adapt their cooking to the post-COVID-era.

To AP News, Yuliet Colón laments about the lack of rice, beans, cheese, fruit, and, most of all, eggs. “What I like the most is making desserts, but now it’s hard to get eggs, milk or flour,” she revealed.

The brightside is, however, that Cuban cooks are finally able to share food-related tips and tricks with each other on a much larger scale than they were before the internet became more widespread in the country.

Now that many Cubans have access to communication apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, they can now connect with one another and make the most of what they have–however little that may be.

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Mariah Carey Got Her First Dose Of The Vaccine And Made It Into An Iconic Moment

Entertainment

Mariah Carey Got Her First Dose Of The Vaccine And Made It Into An Iconic Moment

Vaccines are rolling out across the country. People are getting their shots so life can finally start getting back to normal after a year of quarantining and social distancing. Mariah Carey let her fans join on her first shot and it became iconic.

Mariah Carey got her first shot of the vaccine and hit that whistle note.

More and more Americans are finally getting vaccinated to get the world back to normal. More than 160 million vaccines have been given in the U.S. and people are starting to see the results. Life is slowly getting back to normal for families who haven’t seen each other in years.

The singer was “excited and nervous a little bit” about getting the vaccine. Her demeanor showed just how impactful it is for people to do their part to get us back to normal.

True to form, Carey was in her camera-ready pose when she was getting ready.

People receiving the vaccine are told to keep their arm relaxed but Carey clearly isn’t made for that. How do you just turn off your star charisma?

It’s important to keep your arm relaxed while you are getting your vaccination to save you from the pain. If your arm is tense or in an awkward position, it is more likely to move during the jab, which can be painful. Listen to your nurses.

Some people are very curious how someone so young got the vaccine.

President Joe Biden announced that all states must make vaccine eligibility open to all adults by April 19. Some states are allowing people as young as 16 to get vaccinated. This is an accelerated deadline from the previously called for May 1. President Biden has worked hard to push the vaccination rate up and he has delivered on his promises for various vaccination deadlines.

People want to know if the vocal skills are a side effect of the vaccine.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories circulating about the vaccine. Some people believe that Bill Gates is microchipping them using the vaccine. It is a conspiracy that persists despite people definitively debunking the theory.

Congratulations, Mariah!

The world is eager to get back to normal and the vaccination rollout across the world is going to get us there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is slowly releasing new guidelines about what fully vaccinated people are able to do.

For example, it is safe for fully vaccinated people to gather in small groups indoors without masks and social distancing. Fully vaccinated people can also fly on airplanes without much risk because of the effectiveness of the vaccine.

READ: This Is How Cuba Is Developing Its Own COVID Vaccine When It Can Barely Get Daily Necessities To The Island

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