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Amid anti-government protests in Cuba, false photos and videos are being shared on social media

Anti-government protests are ongoing in Cuba, and online users are posting false photos and videos that claim to show the demonstrations.

Thousands are demonstrating in Cuba against the government, reportedly protesting food shortages, high prices and other grievances. The Associated Press reported at least one person was killed in a clash between protesters and police. 

Since the protests began on July 11, online users have shared posts claiming to be from the unrest, but many of them are not from the current demonstrations. Even the official Facebook account of the Presidency of the Republic of Cuba denounced one fake Facebook profile that was created, claiming to be the official government office of the president.

VERIFY investigated several of these photos and videos and dug into their origin stories.

THE QUESTION

Does this photo show Cubans “protesting their communist government?”

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, this photo was manipulated slightly to appear like it was taken during Cuban demonstrations.

The photo was actually taken by a Reuters photographer in 2017 during a Women’s March demonstration in Washington, D.C. A side-by-side comparison of the manipulated photo and the photo from the Reuters photographer show the similarities between the two photos. 

Credit: VERIFY screenshot

Google Maps also confirms the large building in the background is the Sidney R. Yates Federal Building in Washington. 

THE QUESTION

Does this photo show a large crowd along the coast during a demonstration in Cuba?

THE SOURCES 

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, this photo is not from the demonstrations in Cuba, but was actually taken in Egypt in 2011.

The photo was taken from Alexandria, Egypt, during their own anti-government march on Feb. 11, 2011, according to AP Images archive. The photo posted to Twitter claiming to be from Cuba was a screenshot of another post, and had more than 700 retweets, even though a Twitter disclaimer accompanied the post stating the media was “presented out of context”.

THE QUESTION

Did Cuban police kill a 13-year-boy amid the anti-government protests?.

VERIFY editorial note: This photo contains sensitive, graphic content and has been blurred. An original tweet can be seen here.

Credit: VERIFY screenshot

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

Several people online (here and here, as examples) have claimed the police in Cuba killed a young boy, but the boy was actually killed in Venezuela. 

Alberth Lopez, 11, was killed during clashes in the Cota 905 slum in Caracas on July 11, El Nacional reported. Journalist Román Camacho tweeted a photo of the same boy featured in the tweets that claim the boy was killed during the demonstrations in Cuba.

In this tweet from Journalist Delmiro De Barrio, the original photos were credited to “RRSS,” and the original photos from Caracas may have been shared across closed-network messaging application Telegram.

THE QUESTION

Was this video that shows thousands demonstrating in the street taken in Cuba?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, even though this video has been shared across both Facebook and Twitter claiming to be from Cuba, it was actually taken in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

The large crowd was gathered to celebrate Argentina’s win over Brazil in the Copa America final soccer match. The same scene can be seen in an image from AP Images. The blue pillar seen in the video is actually the Obelisco lit in blue on Av. 9 de Julio. A Guardian Football YouTube shows the same scene and background

Google Maps can also confirm the video is actually from Buenos Aires.

THE QUESTION

Does a photo show former Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz fleeing to Venezuela when the anti-government protests began?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the multiple claims former Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz was spotted departing a plane in Venezuela are not true. This claim on Instagram had more than 800 likes.

The photo was actually taken in 2015 when he arrived in Costa Rica for the III Summit of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit. CubaDebate, a Cuban news organization, wrote about his arrival and shared the same photo. A reverse image search using Google Images shows the same one.

THE QUESTION

Were these photos, which have hundreds of shares, taken during the protests in Cuba?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, similarly to the previous photos checked by VERIFY, these were also images showing a scene from an entirely different event.  

The photos were actually taken in 2016 by a Getty Images photographer John Parra, who captured the scene from the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami, Florida, where a crowd of Cuban Americans celebrated the death of Fidel Castro.

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