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Thousands of Cubans took to the streets on Sunday in a number of cities to protest against human rights abuses, a lack of freedom, and a worsening economic situation in the communist-ruled country.
Videos uploaded to social media appear to show demonstrations in a number of towns and cities, including the capital, Havana, on Sunday. Protesters, chanting in Spanish, said they “weren’t afraid” of the regime led by Miguel Diaz Canel, and said they wanted access to COVID-19 vaccines and an end to the regime.
It comes amid reports of gas, electricity, and vaccine shortages across the Caribbean island nation. Some analysts noted online that Sunday’s demonstrations are the first time that so many had protested the government since the Maleconazo uprising in 1994, which prompted a number of Cubans to leave the country by boat to the U.S.
Shouts of “down with the dictatorship,” “freedom,” and “homeland and life” were also heard during the demonstrations, according to footage uploaded online.
During different live broadcasts across Facebook, thousands of people can be seen marching through the streets of cities like San Antonio de los Baños, Guira de Melena, and Alquízar, reported South Florida’s WTVJ-TV.
Spontaneous street protests breaking out in several cities in #Cuba right now with chants of #NoTenemosMiedo (We Are Not Afraid)— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 11, 2021
Frustration with the dictatorships incompetence,greed & repression is mounting rapidly pic.twitter.com/eSAr8Xrxpf
“I just walked through town looking to buy some food and there were lots of people there, some with signs, protesting,” local resident Claris Ramirez said by phone. “They are protesting blackouts, that there is no medicine,” she added, reported the Reuters news agency.
In response to the demonstrations, Diaz-Canel echoed an often-repeated claim by other Marxist governments and blamed the protests on a foreign smear campaign initiated by the United States.
“The order of combat is given, the revolutionaries take to the streets,” he said on a state-run radio and television network, apparently ordering his security forces to disperse the demonstrators.