Cuba Sees Biggest Protests for Decades as Pandemic Adds to Woes

Cubans take to streets in rare protests over lack of freedoms and worsening economy.

By Balthazar Malevolent

Cuba Sees Biggest Protests for Decades as Pandemic Adds to Woes

Anti-government protests have erupted in Cuba. The last time this happened here 30 years ago.

Protesters demand freedom, democracy and stronger government action against the pandemic coronavirus. According to Agence France-Presse, the slogans of the demonstrators include "down with the dictatorship" and "we are not afraid".

A record number of cases have been reported in the country in the past 24 hours. People are demanding that the authorities speed up the pace of vaccination.

Last week Cuba approved its own vaccine, Abdala 2, the first of its kind in Latin America and the Caribbean.

However, protesters say it is not just about the pandemic. They are angered by growing electricity and food shortages.

Anti-government demonstrations are a rarity in Cuba. The last such demonstrations were held almost 30 years ago.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel has accused the United States and the Cuban-American mafia of fuelling the situation on the island.

Jake Sullivan, the US president's national security adviser, expressed support for the protesters.

“The US supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights,” Sullivan said in a statement posted on Twitter.

According to Reuters, law enforcement vehicles equipped with machine guns have been spotted in Havana.

Miguel Díaz-Canel called on communists to take to the streets and fight back against protesters. The time has come to defend the revolution, he said.

“We are ready to give our lives. They have to step over our corpses if they want to confront the revolution. We are ready for anything.”

A man being arrested during a demonstration against the Cuban government on Sunday in Havana. Credit: Adalberto Roque/Agence France-Presse.

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