Thousands of Cubans have marched on Havana’s boardwalk and elsewhere to protest food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis, in one of the largest anti-government demonstrations in memory.
Many young people took part in the Sunday afternoon protest in the capital, which disrupted traffic until police entered after several hours when some protesters threw stones.
Police initially fell behind when protesters chanted “freedom”, “enough” and “unite.” One motorcyclist pulled out an American flag, but others snatched it from him.
“We are fed up with the queues, the shortages. That’s why I’m here, ”a middle-aged protester told the Associated Press. He refused to identify himself for fear of being arrested later.
Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, along with a resurgence of coronavirus cases, as it suffers the consequences of sanctions imposed by the United States by the Trump administration.
A Biden administration official tweeted his support for Sunday’s demonstrations. Julie Chung, Acting Undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, tweeted: “Peaceful protests are growing in Cuba as the Cuban people exercise their right to peaceful assembly to express concern about the increase in Covid cases / deaths and shortages. of medications. We commend the many efforts of the Cuban people to mobilize donations to help neighbors in need.
The demonstration grew to a few thousand in the vicinity of Galeano Avenue and the protesters continued to move forward despite some accusations by police and tear gas bombardments. People standing on many balconies along the central artery of the Centro Habana neighborhood applauded the passing protesters. Others joined the march.
Many people tried to pull out their phones and broadcast the protest live, but the Cuban authorities shut down internet service for the entire afternoon.
About two and a half hours after the march, some protesters raised cobblestones and threw them at the police, at which point the officers began arresting people and the protesters dispersed.
A group of government supporters also arrived in the area, shouting slogans in favor of the late President Fidel Castro and the revolution. Some of them assaulted an AP cameraman and photographer.
Demonstrations also took place in other places on the island, including the small town of San Antonio de los Baños, where people protested against the power cuts and was visited by President Miguel Díaz-Canel. He went into some houses, where he answered questions from residents.
Later, however, he accused the “Cuban-American mafia” of causing trouble.
“As if pandemic outbreaks had not existed throughout the world, the Cuban-American mafia, paying very well on social networks to influencers and YouTubers, has created a whole campaign … and has called demonstrations throughout the country,” said Díaz-Canel . reporters.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism