Cuba denounces the suspension of official Twitter accounts

Havana denounces a “gross manipulation” of the Twitter algorithm to destabilize the island

HAVANA, Sept. 12th (AFP) – The Cuban government on Wednesday denounced the suspension of multiple official media Twitter accounts during a live TV address by President Miguel Diaz-Canel about the island’s fuel shortage.

“Twitter suspended the accounts for Cuba’s main media” while he spoke on the prime time Mesa Redonda show, the Cuban foreign ministry tweeted.

“In an obviously arranged operation, attempts were made to limit the pronouncements of the revolutionaries who support the truth,” the ministry added.

Diaz-Canel also blamed US sanctions for Cuba’s fuel shortage.

At the moment Diaz-Canel started speaking, the Mesa Redonda Twitter account was effectively suspended, as well as the accounts of Canal Caribe channel and other official media outlets, including Granma newspaper and Radio Rebelde.

The suspension, which was immediately reported by Cuban internet users and criticized by government supporters, lasted until the end of the broadcast.

Twitter did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

Cuba is regularly criticized by watchdogs for exerting excessive control over the internet. According to New York-based Freedom House, blogs and websites critical of the government are frequently blocked.

Only a small percentage of the Cuban population can access the global internet, as opposed to the government-controlled national internet, Freedom House said.

In his address, Diaz-Canel said the “low availability of diesel” will affect transport, merchandise distribution and electricity generation.

He said no fuel had arrived in the country since Tuesday and the situation will persist until Saturday when a tanker is expected to arrive by sea.

The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on various companies for transporting Venezuelan petroleum to Cuba.

Diaz-Canel accused the United States of acting “with greater aggression towards Cuba.”

The administration of President Donald Trump has ramped up the sanctions which were first imposed on Cuba in 1962.