The government severely restricted the ability of citizens and visitors to exercise their rights in both the country and abroad. This included limiting foreign travel, prohibiting migration with the right of return, and barring Cubans of certain nationalities from entering or living in Havana.
Irrespective of their nationality, residents of Cuban descent were subject to discrimination in housing, education, employment, and other areas based on their gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and ancestry. This discrimination is especially pronounced in the eastern region, where Afro-Cubans are concentrated.
There was a shortage of qualified teachers in Cuba, particularly in rural areas. For this reason, students were encouraged to enroll in private schools or other educational facilities outside of the state system. The government also promoted private tutors who offered a free or low-cost service to students in need.
Academic freedom was also largely restricted, with few exceptions. University professors and researchers were often required to censor their work for fear of incurring the wrath of the institution’s leaders.
Independent journalists faced repression and harassment from the government. This included detention, sex-based intimidation, and censorship.
Outspoken artists and academics were often criticized, and several had to leave the country for fear of arrest or retaliation.
The government was also shrewd in its use of technology to promote social change. The internet was censored and government-controlled telephony providers like ETECSA cut off internet access for targeted reporters, thus restricting their ability to cover critical issues.
In addition to the aforementioned sex-based intimidation and censorship, Cuban women were disproportionately subjected to violence, including sexual assault and femicide. According to Red Femenina de Cuba and YoSiTeCreoEnCuba, a total of 27 femicides were reported during the first eight months of the year.