Three days after the protests began in Cuba, the country’s mobile Internet connection remains cut, but a minority has already recovered data service and some young people have used virtual private network (VPN) platforms to get online.
Until this Wednesday, most Cubans still do not have Internet access on their cell phones, which in practice means an almost total blackout, as few homes in the country have Wi-Fi connection.
In this scenario, some citizens across the country, especially young people, have resorted to VPN platforms – such as Psiphon and Thunder – and other tricks to circumvent censorship and access 3G and 4G networks, controlled by the state monopoly of the Cuban Telecommunications Company (Etecsa).
“You have to activate the data and then the VPN, and place it in the US region. Then, put the phone in airplane mode for five seconds and, when deactivating it, it connects”, explained a woman from Efe to Efe. 26 years old who lives in Havana and managed to access the internet this Wednesday, after two and a half days disconnected.
Exceptional cases were also reported of Cubans who recovered their connection intermittently, without the help of a VPN, but were unable to access some applications, such as WhatsApp.
Private and public Wi-Fi networks have not stopped working in Cuba, but have had intermittent restrictions on WhatsApp.
The mobile internet service was disabled on Sunday after protests against the dictatorship spread across the country, amid a serious economic and health crisis and shortages of food, medicine and basic products.
The internet cut interrupted the routine of part of the country’s workers, as remote work was adopted by many sectors.
Etecsa did not offer any explanation for the blackout. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez compared “electricity interruptions” to other difficulties facing the country. “It’s true that there is a lack of data, but there is also a lack of medicines,” said the chancellor, without explicitly acknowledging the regime’s responsibility.