US urges Cuba to lift internet restrictions after anti-government protests

The United States on Tuesday urged Cuba to end internet restrictions imposed after unprecedented protests and renewed a call for the release of detained protesters.

“We call on Cuban leaders to show restraint (and) insist on respect for the voice of the people by opening up all means of communication, both online and offline,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. against reporters.

“Shutting down technology, cutting off information routes does not affect the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Cuban people,” Price said.

“We commend the Cuban people for showing great courage,” Price said, adding that Havana has responded by trying to “silence their voices.”

“We call for calm and we condemn any violence against those who protest peacefully. And we also call on the Cuban government to release anyone held for peaceful protest,” he said.

Cuba has arrested more than 100 people, including independent journalists and opposition activists, after massive protests in the communist-ruled island over the worst economic crisis in decades.

Web monitoring group NetBlocks reported disruptions in Cuba on major social media and communication platforms, including WhatsApp and Facebook.

Cuba was quick to blame half a century of economic pressure in the US for the crisis, but the downturn also comes amid strict measures against Covid-19 and a rise in the number of cases.

Price pointed out that Cuba — which is proud of its health care system and is rolling out a native vaccine — has not joined Covax, the UN-backed program for low-income countries to which the United States has been sent under President Joe Biden. an important contributor.

“Cuba has made a sovereign decision about how it will handle a pandemic,” Price said.

“The Cuban government can always decide to receive vaccine donations from outside, but the Cuban government has decided not to do that yet.”


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