Cuban Vice Prime Minister Deletes Tweet Revealing Regime's Social Media "Combat" Strategy

Monday, June 10, 2024 by Samantha Mendoza

Cuban Vice Prime Minister Deletes Tweet Revealing Regime's Social Media "Combat" Strategy
Inés María Chapman Waugh and incriminating slide - Image © Video capture / Canal Caribe - X / @Camaguey1514

Inés María Chapman Waugh, the Vice Prime Minister of Cuba, posted and later deleted a tweet that inadvertently exposed part of the regime's strategy for "combatting" on social media. Concerned about the impact of social media on Cuban public opinion and the growing distrust of official media and messages among the population, the Cuban totalitarian regime is desperately trying to regain lost ground in the "information battle" against "haters" (activists and general civil society).

In this context, the National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP) approved the Social Communication Law 162/2023 at the end of May last year, which came into effect on June 5 after its publication in the Official Gazette of Cuba. This new legal framework aims to "regulate and organize the Social Communication System" in Cuba. Following this legal update, the Institute of Information and Social Communication (ICS) held a press conference detailing aspects of the law and its complementary regulations.

The Vice Prime Minister and member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Chapman Waugh, attended this press conference organized by the ICS (formerly ICRT), as she shared on her social media. Yet, social media can be unforgiving. Chapman Waugh posted photos from the event, one of which caught the attention of users.

In her now-deleted post on X (formerly Twitter), Chapman Waugh wrote: "At ICS, engaging with directors from various Central State Administration bodies about Social Communication in all its aspects. The three pillars of government management: CTI, digital transformation, and Social Communication for development." However, one of the photos included a slide with the title "Social Media Management."

The slide revealed that for "social media management," the ICS has "98 corporate lines, of which 71 are engaged in combat on the X platform." It also specified that the organization of social media work includes "6 key users, 25 strategic users, 3 liaisons, and the rest as support."

Within half an hour, user Camagüey noticed the information in the photo shared by Chapman Waugh. Screenshots were inevitable. "Inesita the inept shows us how they organize the ciberclarias' work on social media from the Castro government," Camagüey tweeted, sharing Chapman Waugh's tweet and an enlarged version of the photo showing the slide text.

The blunder quickly spread on social media. Less than an hour after its discovery, the Vice Prime Minister deleted her post. "They made Inesita the Inept delete the post!" Camagüey tweeted again. But it was too late; social media and Cuban civil society had already captured and interpreted the image, uncovering part of the regime's "combat" strategy on social media.

"Oh no! Minister Inés María Chapman let slip confidential information on their so-called spontaneity... They claim to have 98 corporate lines, 71 of which are for spreading spontaneous propaganda, called 'combat'... 6 key users, 25 strategic users...," warned user Edmundo Dantés Junior on Facebook. Many others echoed the Vice Prime Minister's blunder, exposing the regime's strategy to counteract messages contrary to its interests using bots, ciber-combatants (known as ciberclarias), and other accounts serving the propaganda of the "continuity" allegedly led by Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Not Chapman's First Blunder

This isn't the first time Inés María Chapman Waugh has made a problematic mistake on social media. In mid-August 2021, amid the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and with the country's hospitals overwhelmed, the Vice Prime Minister deleted a tweet showing images of the isolation center where she and her son spent their COVID-19 quarantine, sparking outrage among social media users.

"Messages of thanks to the doctors are arriving: after 8 days of isolation and fighting COVID-19, my son and I are negative and back home. Many thanks to the medical, nursing, and paramedic staff at the Raúl Tamayo Isolation Center in Holguín," she tweeted, along with two photos. However, the conditions of this facility contrasted starkly with those available to the general population, which lacked medication, comforts, or proper bathrooms, as denounced by netizens.

In one photo, a private room with two beds and an adequately equipped bathroom could be seen. The isolation center where Chapman Waugh and her son quarantined in Holguín was also shown being cleaned by staff, decorated with paintings, and even equipped with a television. Despite deleting the post in a belated attempt to hide the privileges enjoyed by Cuba's ruling elite, the top hashtags of the tweet's responses revealed the discontent and disapproval of Cubans. Several users took screenshots and posted complaints on social media, once again criticizing the lives of Cuban leaders and their lack of empathy for the people's suffering. Even Díaz-Canel had liked Chapman Waugh's tweet.

Social Communication Law: A Censorship Tool

The Social Communication Law 162/2023 was designed, among other continuity measures, to silence dissenting voices and control the public narrative in Cuba. One of its core principles aims to prohibit the dissemination, in traditional media and cyberspace, of information that could destabilize the "socialist state."

Only media linked to the government, the PCC, and mass organizations are legal in the country. This strict information control contradicts the principles of press freedom and expression, essential in a democratic society. The Cuban Constitution declares that media are socialist property and cannot be of another type. This provision, together with the new law, ensures that any independent media attempting to operate in the country will be automatically illegal.

Independent activists and journalists, targeted by programs like Hacemos Cuba and "Con Filo," see this law as another government tool to silence any form of criticism. The law also specifies that content cannot be used to subvert the constitutional order or support communicational attacks against the government. The provisions are vague enough to justify censoring any content the regime deems inappropriate.

Allowing commercial advertising and sponsorship in media might seem like an opening, but it's conditioned by state approval, ensuring that revenues do not come from sources the government considers subversive. Although presented as a modernization of the regulatory framework, the Social Communication Law of Cuba is actually another tool for the regime to maintain absolute control over information and repress dissenting voices more forcefully and quickly.

Understanding Cuba's Social Media Strategy and Communication Law

Given the significance of the revelations about Cuba's social media strategy and the new Social Communication Law, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers to provide further clarity.

What did Inés María Chapman Waugh's tweet reveal about Cuba's social media strategy?

The tweet revealed that the Institute of Information and Social Communication (ICS) uses 98 corporate lines, with 71 engaged in "combat" on the X platform, organized by key users, strategic users, liaisons, and support roles.

Why was the Social Communication Law 162/2023 enacted in Cuba?

The law was enacted to regulate and organize the social communication system in Cuba, but it is also seen as a tool to silence dissenting voices and control the public narrative, prohibiting the dissemination of information that could destabilize the socialist state.

How does the Social Communication Law affect independent media in Cuba?

The law ensures that only government-linked media are legal, making any independent media automatically illegal. This strict control contravenes principles of press freedom and expression, essential in a democratic society.

© CubaHeadlines 2024

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