With the cry of “freedom” and “down with the dictatorship”, a series of rarely seen demonstrations took place in Cuba this Sunday (11).
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the country, including Havana, to express their frustration over months of crisis, restrictions due to the pandemic and what they report as government negligence .
In a speech broadcast on national television, the President and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, accused the United States of being responsible for the acts.
“We call on all revolutionaries in the country, all communists, to take to the streets where there are efforts to produce these provocations,” said Diaz-Canel.
At the end of the afternoon, special forces jeeps equipped with machine guns surrounded Havana, thousands of people gathered in the center of the city and along the road which borders the sea, but there is no had no clashes with the police.
The protests started in the village of San Antonio de los Baños and spread to other towns. San Antonio de los Baños is a small rural municipality in the province of Artemisa, neighboring Havana, with a population of around 50,000.
A military detachment was sent to San Antonio, which was also visited by Miguel Díaz-Canel accompanied by soldiers from the Cuban Communist Party.
Videos on social media show hundreds of residents chanting anti-government slogans and demanding coronavirus vaccines and an end to daily blackouts.
To the cries of “Down with the dictatorship!” and “we are not afraid”, the demonstrators, mostly young, crossed the city, according to the images.
“I went to buy food in the city and saw several people with posters protesting. They are protesting because of the power cuts and because there are no medicines, ”a resident of the neighborhood, Claris Ramirez, told Reuters by telephone.
Protests also took place on Sunday in Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, where a video, confirmed by a resident, showed hundreds of people walking the streets.
The protests came on a day when Cuba recorded a new daily record of coronavirus infections and deaths, with 6,923 cases reported for a total of 238,491 and 47 deaths in 24 hours, for a total of 1,537 deaths.
The Caribbean island is going through a deep economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic and the tightening of the embargo the United States has maintained for 60 years – both impacting tourism, its main source of income. Last year, during the pandemic, tourist towns emptied.