Anti-constitution text messages blocked on Cuban cell phones

Young people use Twitter to prove case, demand response

By Hatzel Vela - Cuba Correspondent

HAVANA - The Cuban government has made it no secret it wants Cubans to vote yes on the proposed constitution that goes up for a public referendum on Feb. 24.

But a recent incident involving blocked text messages has some thinking the government is going out of its way to suppress public outcry. 

Eduardo Sánchez, 23, first found out about the odd incidents by word of mouth. 

"A friend sent me a message," he told Local 10 News at a Vedado park in Havana. 

Sanchez then tried it himself and later posted what he called proof on Twitter. 

On two different screenshots, Sánchez showed us the messages he sent and the ones received. 

He says only the positive messages containing hashtags like #YoVotoSi (I Vote Yes) and #SomosContinuidad (We Are Continuity) were delivered. 

Messages like #YoVotoNo (I Vote No) and #Abstencion (Abstention), he argues, were blocked. 

 

 

If in fact true, Sanchez calls the move unacceptable. 

He adds ETECSA, the state run telecommunications company, is misusing public resources.

"It's a fully legal referendum, a fully legal state organized referendum and people should be allowed to vote for, against or even abstain," said Sanchez, who added ETECSA should be accountable to the people. 

"The property of the state is the property of the people," Sanchez said. 

By way of Twitter, Sanchez asked ETECSA for a response, but never received one. 

In Cuba, social media has become a battleground for those who are in favor or oppose the proposed Cuban constitution. 

And the newly released 3G phone service and greater ability of Cubans to connect to the internet has quickly changed the way young Cubans interact with their government. 

"We are moving from a unidirectional form of communication to a multidirectional and that's a good thing because it's a way of allowing everyone to take part in the construction of our country," Sanchez said. 

Although Sanchez didn't reveal which way he is voting, as a young Cuban, he remains hopeful social media can continue to pay a vital role in improving the dialogue between Cubans and government leadership.

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