Facebook: the portal for reporting traffic accidents in Cuba

Facebook: the portal for reporting traffic accidents in Cuba

Published on 21 Jan 2024

Faced with the opacity of traditional media, citizens report in social media platforms

Traffic accidents in Cuba reach alarming figures. In 2023, a total of 8,556 traffic accidents were recorded, where 56% of these accidents involved pedestrians, motorcycle and moped drivers. In addition, this is the year with the highest number of deaths related to road accidents.

 

In view of this situation, the official media hardly offer any information on the matter, so organized citizens took the initiative to create Facebook pages dedicated to road reporting.

 

Accidents and injuries: whose fault is it?

 

Cuban authorities reported 729 deaths during 2023 related to traffic accidents and the number of injured amounts to 5,938.

 

If between January and October 2023 562 people had died in traffic accidents, in only two months (November and December) another 167 died. This implies that there were almost three fatalities on average per day during the last two months of last year.

 

According to Colonel Roberto Rodríguez Fernández, head of the specialized Traffic Department of the General Directorate of the National Police, among the main causes of these accidents in Cuba are “speeding, distractions at the wheel and violation of the right of way”. To these infractions were added the technical malfunctions of the vehicles, the lack of use of helmets and seat belts.

 

Ayled Borges, first lieutenant and analyst of the Specialized Traffic Organ of the National Police pointed out that more than 90% of the accidents are the responsibility of the citizens and not of the bad condition of the roads in Cuba nor of the aging fleet of vehicles circulating in the country.

 

Considering that the authorities stopped using public lighting in many roads of the island as a saving measure in view of the energy crisis, dangerous incidents have been registered in the streets as a result of this; and this is not reported in the official channels either.

 

Traffic accidents in Cuba are also affected, especially in recent years, by the increase in the circulation of mopeds: an option used by many people to get around due to the acute crisis of public transportation on the island.

 

Citizens take the baton of reports

 

Facebook has become one of the main platforms for infocitizens in Cuba since reports and denunciations of traffic accidents are not usually news in the state-owned media that dominate the country.

 

The monitoring of these events is recorded both in the independent press as well as in civil society platforms. An example of this is the Facebook social network group “ACCIDENTES BUSES & CAMIONES por más experiencia y menos víctimas!”. Through the premise “with only one person losing his life in an accident is already an unacceptable figure that implies taking measure and experience”, citizens report daily accidents on the island.

 

The group has more than 363 thousand members, which represents about 3% of the Cuban population and, although its name and description is limited to accidents related to trucks and buses, the community of the page reports road accidents of all kinds. It is even used as a means to receive information on accidents that have not been officially reported.

 

What is being said on the networks about the problem

 

From ProBox we monitored the conversation about traffic in Cuba through the keywords traffic accidents, car accidents, moped accidents, traffic accidents, vehicle crashes, general direction of the Cuban National Police, love with road safety and 60 Jornada Nacional de Tránsito (60th National Traffic Day).

 

We obtained a sample of 1,015 mentions on Instagram, Twitter (X) and Facebook from October 26 to November 26, having as the peak of the conversation on November 20 and the days around this with 98 mentions registered during the day.

 

 

It also highlights that 75.47% was concentrated on Twitter (766 mentions), 24.53% on Facebook (249 mentions), however, we did not record any mentions on Instagram. Among the words that were most repeated, some stand out in the graph such as penco firefighters, valdivia firefighters, police director, among others. In addition, the most influential accounts that were registered using these keywords in Cuba were Noticias Caracol, Exitosa Noticias and Tráfico ZMG on Facebook.

 

What the regime is doing about the problem

 

The Cuban regime took on the task of spreading its narrative about road safety on social networks.

 

Under the slogan “love with road safety” the authorities of the Cuban regime launched on November 6 the 60th National Traffic Day, which aims to promote actions that contribute to transform the negative behaviors that influence road safety and in turn socialize good practices that allow a change of behavior on the road.

 

Specifically, the conversation around the two keywords linked to the Cuban State policies (love with road safety and 60th National Traffic Day) registered 186 mentions in the same period of time, having a peak during November 6 with 29 mentions. This conversation was mainly concentrated on Twitter with 52.15% of the registered mentions (97 mentions) and on Facebook 47.85% of the registered mentions (89 mentions). The main influential accounts were HCH TV, Agencia Cubana de Noticias and CNC TV Granma.

 

Among the most outstanding words in the word cloud are central slogan, central slogan, start of the day, among others. Also among the main hashtags were #cubamined, #AmorConSeguridadVial and #PinarDelRío.

 

Regarding the repair of roads in poor condition, the regime says nothing. The closest that was mentioned was at the beginning of 2023 when the vice prime minister, Jorge Luis Tapia Fonseca, said that the most damaged sections of the Central Highway and the roads leading to tourist sites would be repaired as a priority, but to date no action has been taken in this regard. In the meantime, citizens continue to inform and report with the few resources at their disposal.

 

For more information on socio-political manipulation on social media you can follow us on as @ProBoxVE.

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