Thousands of Cubans took to the streets of several provinces around the Caribbean this Sunday, chanting public slogans against the communist government, such as “We want freedom” and “We are no longer afraid.”
The demonstrations come at a time when Cuba is facing its worst economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with an increase in repression against political opponents and a difficult health system at a critical juncture in the COVID epidemic. Health officials have registered nearly 7,000 new cases and 47 deaths – a new record of infections and deaths on the island of more than 11 million people.
In Miami, hundreds of people gathered on SW 8th Street in Little Havana, in solidarity with the growing protests in Cuba. “I know my family people are dying in Cuba. It’s horrible,” said Christian Guzman, who lives in Miami. NBC local station WTVJ
“It simply came to our notice then. No food, no medicine. COVID eruption. The whole country is on the streets, ”said Tario Suarez.
In Cuba, protests began in the afternoon in the municipality of San Antonio de los Banos in the province of Artemisia, adjacent to Havana. A few hours later they spread to provinces in the east of the country, such as Santiago de Cuba.
The capital, Central Maligan, which historically protested against former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in August 1994, has been violently repressed, with hundreds of protesters gathering this Sunday.
Cubans in several provinces contacted by Notice Telemundo have confirmed that the government, which controls the island’s only internet provider, has imposed service restrictions to block live broadcasts.
“They don’t want the world to see what’s going on in Cuba,” said a resident of Havana, who asked not to be identified for fear of the regime’s retaliation.
President Miguel Diaz-Colonel called on the military to confront protesters on national television: “Fighting has been ordered,” he said.
In Cuba, videos aired on social networks can be verified by Notices Telemundo, showing special agents known as Black Berets in Cuba, who in some places stopped and violently detained protesting and quietly singing members of the public.
“All the revolutionaries of the country, all the communists, take to the streets and go to the places where these provocations are going to take place,” Thias-Colonel called.
In recent days, Cuban deportees and high-ranking individuals have joined the #SOSCuba campaign to open a humanitarian channel for island officials, which allows nearly 240,000 patients to access drugs and supplies to treat corona virus.
Officials have mocked the move on national television, describing it as an attempt to discredit the government’s administration over the health crisis that is plaguing the island’s hospitals.
Cubans whose relatives have died of the corona virus in recent days have gone on social media to talk about the severity of the health crisis, which currently has its center in the province of Madonnas, known as the tourist pole of Varadero beach.
“My mother died. We were alone for four days. Call SIUM (Integrated System of Medical Emergency) for four days and look for her. Four days and SIUM did not come, ”said Cuban Magdalen Matos outside a hospital in Madonna.
Meanwhile, opposition artists and independent journalists have denounced the government for maintaining police patrols outside their homes for weeks, while reports of patients not being able to be transferred to hospitals on time due to a lack of transportation and resources continue.
“Take these patrols to take the sick, open hotels to open houses for them, and facilitate the arrival of donated medicines and medical utensils,” said poet and activist Kathryn Biscuit from Havana, pointing to a police car parked in the basement of the building.
Cuba did not join Kovacs, the World Health Organization, which seeks to spread the Govt vaccine in poorer countries, but instead bet on producing its own vaccine.
Abdala, one of those five vaccine candidates, received approval for emergency use this week. The government says the vaccine, first produced in Latin America, will be 92.8% effective after three doses, but has not released data on clinical studies and has not been approved by any international health organization.
In Miami, Florida, where Cuba has the largest community of deportees, Cuban-born Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar said: “We have not seen such a popular uprising in recent years.”
Mass demonstrations are rare on the island, and when they do occur they are quickly put down. The only Cuban politicians and official press in Cuba denigrating protesters, claiming that they are responding to US interests and receiving funding for subjugation.
Julie Chung, executive secretary of the US State Department’s Western Hemisphere Office, supported the protests on Twitter, saying peaceful protests were on the rise as people exercised their right to peaceful assembly to express their concern over the increase in Govt cases and deaths.
The corona virus crisis has led to the closure of airports and the slowdown of more than 80 percent of tourism – its second-largest source of income after Cuba’s medical care – and has sparked popular discontent.
The Cuban government blames the economic crisis on US sanctions and sanctions against Cuba intensified by former President Donald Trump. The Biden administration has shown no signs of wanting to lift sanctions, and instead the government has repeatedly called for the release of political prisoners and for raising dissent.