“Cuban officials rallied tens of thousands of supporters in the streets on Saturday — nearly a week after they were stunned by the most widespread protests in decades,” the Associated Press reports.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel — accompanied by 90-year-old former President Raul Castro — “made an impassioned speech blaming unrest on the U.S. and its economic embargo, ‘the blockade, aggression and terror… The enemy has returned to throw all it has at destroying the sacred unity and tranquility of the citizens.'”
“I think the government is just trying to signal to people that it understands their desperation and that it’s going to try to alleviate some of the misery that they’re experiencing. The problem is that the government just doesn’t have much in the way of resources that it can devote to doing that,” said William LeoGrande, an expert on Cuba at the American University in the United States.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports:
Psiphon Inc’s freely available internet censorship circumvention tool has helped nearly 1.4 million Cubans this week gain access to websites, the company said on Friday, after Cuba’s government curbed access to popular social media and messaging platforms… Thousands of Cubans joined nationwide protests over shortages of basic goods, limits on civil liberties and the government’s handling of a surge in COVID-19 infections on Sunday, the most significant unrest in decades in the communist-run country.
Psiphon said 1.389 million users accessed the open web from Cuba through its network on Thursday, as well as 1.238 million as noon EDT (1600 GMT) on Friday.
“Internet is ON; circumvention tools ARE working,” Psiphon said in a statement.
Psiphon said the roughly 1.4 million represents about 20% of Cuban internet users. Its open source circumvention tool can be downloaded from app stores like Google Play or Apple to “maximize your chances of bypassing censorship,” according to the company. Canadian university researchers developed the software in 2007 to let users evade governmental internet firewalls.
The censorship-circumvention tool — which combines VPN, SSH, and HTTP Proxy tools — has also been used in Iran, China, Belarus, Myanmar, according to recent news reports. Bloomberg notes that the Toronto-based nonprofit Psiphon “has received funding from the Open Technology Fund, a U.S. government nonprofit that aims to support global internet freedom technologies…
“On Thursday, President Biden said the U.S. is examining whether it’s able to restore internet access shut down by the Cuban government.”