Protests throughout Cuba against the Díaz-Canel government.
In an unusual protest, hundreds of Cubans took to the streets of Havana this Sunday shouting “freedom” in peaceful demonstrations, which were intercepted by the security forces and brigades of government supporters, leading to violent clashes and arrests.
Shortly before, a score of young people, including the playwright Yunior Aguilera, had gathered at the doors of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), where they had called a protest shouting Cuba suffers! And tell the truth and you can be our parents! In the presence of a strong presence of State Security agents.
Another demonstration against the Diaz-Canel Executive has taken place in the Cuban town of San Antonio de los Baños (Artemisa, west) shouting “down with the dictatorship!”, “Freedom” and “homeland and life.”
The unprecedented demonstration was broadcast live by Facebook users and takes place in the midst of a serious economic and health crisis in the Caribbean country, where there is a worrying lack of food, medicine and other basic products.
“People began to shout, there are horrible blackouts, six hours, this does not stop, and it is every day. They began to walk, very peaceful, all they did was shout. There were many young people,” he told Efe by phone a local neighbor who was inside a store at the time of the events.
In San Antonio there is a strong police presence and people have complained that there have been acts of violence against peaceful protesters, according to residents of San Antonio told Efe reporters displaced to that town in the Artemisa province, located about 37 kilometers west of Havana.
The Spanish press agency Efe was also able to confirm the presence of the Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, in the San Antonio Church park, where he had a conversation with a group of government supporters.
Another source who was in the area told Efe that the internet service on cell phones had been cut off.
Videos of other protests have begun to circulate on social media, such as the eastern town of Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, where hundreds of people have also mobilized in the streets and slogans such as “no more lies” and “we have no afraid”.
Aftershocks of the protests have also been reported in the towns of Guira de Melena and Alquízar, both in the province of Artemisa.
“The order of combat is given, to the streets the revolutionaries”, the answer of Díaz-Canel
In response to these demonstrations, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel urged his supporters to take to the streets ready for “combat.”
“The order of combat is given, the revolutionaries take to the streets,” said the president in a special television appearance.
Following this appeal, there have been massive clashes between supporters and opponents of the Government, especially in various parts of Havana.
On the other hand, several of the controversial state stores that sell food and basic products in foreign currency were looted. During the protests one of the frequent shouts was “down the MLC stores”, in reference to the stores in ‘freely convertible currency’ (euphemism for foreign currency) that have multiplied in the last year in the country and that concentrate the majority of food and basic goods to which many Cubans do not have access because they do not receive their salaries in dollars or euros.
This is the largest anti-government protest on the island since the so-called “maleconazo”, when in August 1994, in the middle of the “special period”, hundreds of people took to the streets of Havana and did not leave until the arrival of the then Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
The US highlights the “right” of Cubans to demonstrate
The United States Department of State reacted by highlighting the “right” of Cubans to demonstrate in a “peaceful” manner, in the face of these popular protests that have taken place in several cities of the Caribbean country.
“Peaceful protests are growing in Cuba as the Cuban people exercise their right to peaceful assembly to express concern about the rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths and the shortage of medicines,” said Julie Chung, the undersecretary of state Acting Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs, on his Twitter account.
Chung also praised “the numerous efforts of the Cuban people mobilizing donations to help neighbors in need.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.