Cubans Protest Against Dictatorship, Lack of Access to Food and COVID-19 Vaccines
By: Alyssa Wilson
Throughout Cuba, residents marched in the streets demanding the end of the country’s 62-year dictatorship and protesting against the lack of food and access to COVID-19 vaccines.
According to The Wall Street Journal, protestors chanted, “We are not afraid! We are not afraid!” as they marched through the streets on Sunday.
Cuban President Miguel Diz-Canel blamed the United States for the protests, saying the country is seeking to strangle Cuba economically. Julie Chung, the State Department’s senior official in charge of the Latin American region, tweeted, “We stand by the Cuban people’s right for peaceful assembly. We call for calm and condemn any violence.”
We are deeply concerned by “calls to combat” in #Cuba. We stand by the Cuban people’s right for peaceful assembly. We call for calm and condemn any violence.
— Julie Chung (@WHAAsstSecty) July 11, 2021
Cuba’s people continue to bravely express yearning for freedom in the face of repression.
We call on Cuba’s gov’t to:
Refrain from violence.
Listen to their citizens’ demands.
Respect protestor & journalist rights.
The Cuban people have waited long enough for ¡Libertad!
— Julie Chung (@WHAAsstSecty) July 12, 2021
Carlos F. de Cossio, Cuba’s director general for United States affairs, dismissed Chung’s statement with a tweet, saying the U.S. should “avoid expressing hypocritical concern.”
US State Department and its officials, involved to their necks in promoting social and political instability in #Cuba, should avoid expressing hypocritical concern for a situation they have been betting on. Cuba is and will continue to be a peaceful country, contrary to the US
— Carlos F. de Cossio (@CarlosFdeCossio) July 11, 2021
We stand with the Cuban people as they bravely assert their fundamental and universal rights, and as they all call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering. https://t.co/KGY3MFfsw0
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 12, 2021
The White House released the following official statement from President Joe Biden: “We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime. The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.”
As demonstrators tried to broadcast the protest publicly through social media, Cuban authorities cut internet service multiple times. Protesters also reportedly threw rocks at police cars and overturned them in the streets of Havana.
Cuba was hit hard financially as the country’s tourism industry fell flat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Cubans are forced to stand in line for hours or travel far to get basic groceries like bread. The country’s residents also have to deal with hours-long blackouts meant to preserve energy. In recent days, COVID-19 infections have surged, causing the country’s health system to go into crisis.
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