HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban authorities have placed around a dozen artists and activists under house arrest and sporadically interrupted access to social media following a rare rights protest two weeks ago, according to the dissidents and internet freedom observatory NetBlocks.
The sit-in of several hundred people outside Cuba’s culture ministry calling for greater freedom of expression on Nov. 27 was highly uncommon for the one-party, Communist-run state and came at a sensitive time, given a deep economic crisis.
The protest underscored a strengthening civil society, in particular in the wake of the advent of mobile internet two years ago, and garnered unusually broad support among Cuban creatives who have a high standing on the island.
Culture ministry officials held an unprecedented dialogue with a group of the demonstrators that night. But the next day, the state, which has a monopoly on mass media, started a sustained rhetorical assault on some of the protesters, accusing them of being mercenaries for the United States out to destabilize the government.