Thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the country on Sunday in an unusual protest in which civilians shouted slogans against the Communist government, such as “We want freedom” and “We are no longer afraid.”
The demonstrations come at a time when Cuba faces the worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, an increase in repression against political opponents and a strained health system during a critical stage of the pandemic. Health authorities reported almost 7,000 new cases and 47 deaths — a record for infections and deaths on the Caribbean island of just over 11 million people.
The coronavirus crisis, which caused the closure of airports and slowed tourism by more than 80% — Cuba’s second source of income after its medical missions — has exacerbated the shortage and fueled popular discontent. The Cuban government attributes the economic crisis to U.S. embargo against Cuba and sanctions, which former President Donald Trump intensified.
In Miami, hundreds of people gathered in the Little Havana neighborhood in solidarity with the growing protests in Cuba. “I know my family in Cuba is struggling, people are dying. It’s terrible,” Miami resident Christian Guzmán told NBC station WTVJ. “Right now it’s hard. There’s no food, there’s no medicine. The Covid outbreak. The whole country is in the streets,” Darío Suárez said.
In recent days, Cuban exiles and high-profile personalities have joined the #SOSCuba campaign to demand that the island’s authorities open a humanitarian channel that allows the entry of medicines and supplies to treat the almost 240,000 patients with coronavirus.