Authoritarianism has been a salient feature of the Cuban politics from the days of Fidel Castro to the present. Political dissent is deliberately suppressed and civil liberty is denied to citizens. Cuba needs to improve its human rights record. Internet has emerged as a threat to authoritarianism in Cuba.
Cuba traditionally has followed socialist ideology, as against capitalist philosophy of the US, leading to overt and covert conflict between the two nations. The country has violated human rights of citizens and political dissidents. Leaders such as Raúl Castro used violence to reduce political dissent in the country.
Since the 1950s, Fidel Castro ruled the country based on authoritarian principles. His successor Raúl Castro continued his policies such as detention of political dissidents, maintaining diplomatic distance from the US, and indulging in innumerable human rights violations. The state used violence and political power to curtail political dissent, thus making life difficult for them. For example, leaders such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Guillermo Fariñas, and other political dissidents were imprisoned.
The government has ignored the problems of political dissidents, as proved by the death of Tamayo after his hunger strike in the prison. Political dissidents are imprisoned without any valid reason, and they are not allowed to defend their case, leading to emergence of passive judiciary. Cuba’s relationship with the US has remained negative and such approach by the US and Cuba has not benefited large numbers of people who are prevented from leaving the country without obtaining official permission.
It is true that authoritarianism is an important feature of the Cuban polity. Nevertheless, there are signs of change in the country, particularly with the emergence of the Internet era when members of civil society showed interest to defend their rights, and communicate their views concerning government policies. The US has played its role in the spread of Internet among the masses. The Cuban State controls the Internet, but it has failed to completely dominate the digital world. For example, citizens are allowed to create email accounts. Internet, consequently, emerged as a potent weapon in the hands of political dissidents who can express their discontent with the government. Citizens of Syria and Egypt benefited from Internet revolution, and this shows potentials of the Internet for the people of Cuba.
The Cuban political leaders have curbed political dissent by using their political and military clout. Political dissidents are forcefully detained in prisons, leading to numerous human rights violations. Nevertheless, the emergence of the Internet can be perceived as a threat to the authoritarianism of the Cuban government.