Cuban government accused of censoring negative text message about new constitution

The Cuban government has been accused of censoring text communications that oppose the country's new proposed constitution.

The Cuban public will decide in a referendum Feb. 24 whether to approve the proposal, which would update the Cold War-era constitution.

But not everyone is on board with the new version, as it would pave the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage and wouldn’t overhaul the country's socialist economic system or embrace private property.

Some have accused the government, which is backing the proposed constitution, of rigging the debate and the upcoming vote.

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Eduardo Sánchez, 23, told Miami's WPLG-TV that the alleged suppression of text messages first spread by the word of mouth.

But then he tried to test the allegations by himself to find out whether the Cuban government was engaging in censorship.

He claims that only positive messages about the constitution, with hashtags like #YoVotoSi (I Vote Yes) and #SomosContinuidad (We Are Continuity), were actually delivered to recipients.

Meanwhile, negative messages or texts that say #Abstencion (Abstention) were reportedly blocked.

“It's a fully legal referendum, a fully legal state-organized referendum and people should be allowed to vote for, against or even abstain,” Sanchez told the outlet, saying the state-run telecommunications company should work for the people.

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Social media and text messages are becoming the new challenge of communist governments around the world to contain the spread of ideas that could cause upheaval against the government.

In China, young adults are facing intimidation and detention for the crime of posting on Twitter, with one man spending 15 days in a detention center for using the platform blocked in the country, the New York Times reported.

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In an apparent crackdown on unapproved social media use, Chinese authorities detaining and interrogating an increasing number of Twitter users.

“If we give up Twitter, we are losing one of our last places to speak,” Wang Aizhong, a human-rights activist, told the newspaper.

He said the police asked him to delete posts that criticized the government. After refusing to follow the order, he claimed a government-affiliated hacker sent him a backup code supposedly from Twitter that deleted his 3,000 tweets.