(EFE).- As they did in 2016 to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro, thousands of jubilant Cubans took to the streets in Miami, this time in support of the popular protests that broke out across Cuba, which they see as an opportunity for the change they have longed for for more than 60 years.
Sunday’s rare protests, the largest in Cuba since August 1994, came as the country battles a serious economic and health crisis, with the pandemic out of control and a severe shortage of food, medicine and other essentials, in addition to long power outages.
“It’s over,” the main phrase of the chorus of “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life), the anthem of those who want change in Cuba, was sung by the crowd that overran Calle Ocho in Miami’s Little Havana, promising to remain on the street for as long as the protests last on the island.
“You are not alone” was the other slogan of the night.
As in November 2016, the scene of the rally was Versailles restaurant, a symbol like few others of the Cuban community and exiles in Miami, which was once again filled with people with a desire for freedom and to see a regime fall.
With Castro gone and his brother Raúl Castro removed from the front line of national politics, the Miami Cubans attacked President Miguel Díaz Canel, who on Sunday ordered the island’s revolutionaries to fight those who protested in the streets.
Insults against Díaz Canel also resounded outside Versailles, accompanied by a wave of Cuban flags and posters demanding the end of the dictatorship.
Hermín Soler, 82, who was imprisoned for political reasons on the island for 10 years, told Efe that Cubans have finally come out of the “dream of the revolution.”
Soler asked the people of Miami to encourage those in Cuba to rise up against the island’s communist government and to show them that they are not alone in this struggle that he developed in the jungle and in the mountains.
Many protesters carried signs calling on the international community to respond to the request of the SOS Cuba campaign and another directly appealed to the US Southern Command, responsible for cooperation and security operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, to “help the people” of the island.
Rosa María Payá, daughter of the late opposition member Osvaldo Payá, urged the international community to “draw attention to the dictatorship” for the repression of the protests and recalled a phrase from her father: “The night will not be eternal.”
The same appeal was made by a big banner at the rally, along with the slogan of these protests: “Homeland and Life,” as opposed to the Castro slogan of “Homeland or death.”
María Granela, 85, did not want to miss the show of support for the island that she had to leave in 1970 and to which, she told Efe, she hopes to return to after 50 years if the regime falls, confident that this time it “will be the definite one.” EFE
© 2021 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.
Cuban leader orders ‘combat’ in streets amid nationwide anti-gov’t protests
(EFE).- Thousands of Cubans took to the streets on Sunday to protest against the government in an unprecedented day that resulted in clashes and many arrests after President Miguel Díaz-Canel ordered his supporters to confront the demonstrators.
The protests, the largest in Cuba since August 1994, came as the country battles a serious economic and health crisis, with the pandemic out of control and a severe shortage of food, medicine and other essentials, in addition to long power outages.
Images of hundreds of people marching amid cries of “Down with the dictatorship” and “Homeland and life” through the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, in western Artemisa, lit a fuse on social media and began calls for protests throughout the country.
Thousands marched across Cuba, peacefully in most cases, demanding “freedom” and shouting slogans against the government and Díaz-Canel.
Protests broke out in Palma Soriano (Santiago de Cuba), Alquízar, Güira de Melena, Havana, and the provincial capitals of Camagüey, Matanzas, Ciego de Ávila and Santiago de Cuba, among many other places.
In the capital they took place in several spots, including outside the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television where a sit-in escalated into verbal confrontations with government supporters and the violent detention of young people, according to an Efe team at the scene.
One of the largest protests took place in front of the Havana Capitol, where some 2,000 people gathered before heading to Paseo del Prado avenue leading to the Malecon, shouting “Dictators” and “Down with communism.”
Military trucks blocked access to the Malecón and protesters dispersed, running through the streets trying to reach the emblematic promenade.
Throughout the afternoon, tensions heightened and protesters were dragged into police cars and trucks and taken from the scene.
Around 3 pm local time (07:00 pm GMT) mobile internet service was cut off and calls began to show instability – a digital blackout that lasted hours.
After appearing in San Antonio de los Baños, Díaz-Canel took to state television to urge his supporters to take to the streets.
“The order for combat has been given – revolutionaries to the streets,” said the president, who described the demonstrations as “provocations of the counter-revolution.”
Díaz-Canel’s words caused an uproar on social media where Cubans condemned the head of state for urging confrontations, instead peace and dialog.
Thereafter, citizen brigades arrived at protests sites aboard state buses – shouting slogans such as “I am Fidel” and “Canel, my friend, the people are with you” – in addition to a strong police presence and dozens of plainclothes officers.
It was then that clashes with anti-government protesters escalated.
The events come after the “SOS Cuba” campaign, launched by civil society due to the crisis, the shortage of medicines and the critical situation due to the pandemic in the province of Matanzas.
A night curfew applies to most of the island due to the pandemic. EFE
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