14ymedio, Havana, 30 May 2020 — The Cuban Telecommunications Company (Etecsa) called on its employees to counter the campaign on social networks that has been called for this weekend to demand a reduction in prices for web browsing. The state monopoly classifies the initiative as a “counter-revolution,” according to an internal document leaked to the press.
With the hashtag #BajenLosPreciosDeInternet [Lower the Prices of the Internet], Etecsa users are running a campaign between this Saturday and next Monday asking the state-owned company to reduce internet connection rates from mobile telephones, Wi-Fi zones and the domestic service known as Nauta Hogar.
Etecsa has responded by calling the promoters of the campaign “mercenaries,” according to several tweets and articles published this week in Cuba’s official media. The texts praise “the progress” of the only telephone company in the country and blame the US embargo for high prices for services.
In an internal document — made public by the influencer Alex Otaola — Etecsa workers are called to “work hard” on social media to “publicize everything the company has done and is doing.” The text has fueled outrage from customers who are also using the hashtags #TarifaPlanaYa [Flat Rate Now] and #NoSomosMillonarios [We Aren’t Millionaires].
“We denounce the profiles, the more there are of us the less impact they will have to cover their shamelessness,” warned a user on Twitter a few hours after the protest began. The Internet user asked to report on the social network the accounts of Etecsa officials mentioned in the official document.
“In Cuba we have the most expensive internet services in the world relative to the average salary,” said another tweeter who compared the relationship between web browsing rates and salaries in several Latin American countries. The user attributed the situation on the Island to the the fact that Etecsa is a “monopoly” that “acts without competitors in the market.”
This Thursday, after the call for the Twitter protest, Etecsa announced upcoming new services, but without specifying details or prices. The company announced that for the second half of June “new offers will be implemented for the 4G network,” but this promise did not prevent customers from maintaining the call for the virtual protest.
The company also predicted that “later” it would put combined voice, SMS and data packages for sale to prepaid customers, an old demand from its users.
Since June of last year the #BajenLosPreciosDeInternet campaign has been active on the networks. In its first effort the protest managed, in just 24 hours, to make the hashtag a Trending Topic within the Island and since then the campaign has been present on the networks every Saturday, with more or less enthusiasm.
The activation of the campaign this month seems to be mainly motivated by complaints from hundreds of customers affected by the alleged theft of balances, after buying a recharge with a data voucher that the state monopoly sold in mid-May.
Initially, Etecsa denied its responsibility for the problem and blamed the loss of megabytes on the inexperience of customers, but in the face of pressure, it recognized a “technical error,” without giving further details.
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