MIAMI, Fla. – Protests continued in Cuba on Monday. On Sunday, in more than a dozen cities, Cubans took to the streets to demand change. They denounced that the inability of Cuba’s 62-year-old communist authoritarian political system to cope with the economic and public health crisis has led to the loss of life. There are shortages of food, medicine and COVID-19 vaccines.
The #PatriaYVida political movement against communist and socialist propaganda promoted #SOSCuba in a plea for help that they hoped would reach the international community. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel responded Monday morning by saying the “Cuban-American mafia” had paid “influencers.”
Diaz-Canel did not mention by name the Lebanese-American Sarah Joe Chamoun, better known as porn star Mia Khalifa. He apparently alluded to her as “a certain artist with certain characteristics” who was pressured to say she was a tyrant. In tweets directed at his account, he hurled insults at him.
“This government is not afraid. We are full of energy, we are full of enthusiasm, although it hurts… It is hard what we are experiencing, but we are convinced that we are going to face it and we are going to win,” Diaz-Canel said.
Witnesses said plainclothes Cuban policemen were watching the protesters. Some were armed with baseball bats. Protesters said Cuban authorities also caused internet outages to prevent videos and photos of the historic protests from being distributed around the world.
Opposition activists said COVID-19 patients are dying at home without treatment because hospitals are overwhelmed. During Monday’s press conference, an official admitted to having problems with the capacity of the hospitals. There have been 6,750 coronavirus cases and 31 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Diaz-Canel said his administration was being honest and sat down as officials delivered reports to Cuban government media on Monday. A Cuban economist said the island, like many other countries around the world, was not prepared for the pandemic.
Others at the news conference said the pandemic was compounding the effects of the “U.S. blockade.” The difficulties, Diaz-Canel said, came just as former President Donald Trump applied additional sanctions. Some Cuban officials said enforcing the U.S. embargo during the pandemic is “genocide.”
A public health official noted that scientists on the island developed several vaccines against COVID, including the three-shot Abdala. The Mambisa and Soberanas vaccines are still in development and a study is underway in Camaguey, a Cuban official said during a news conference.
Protesters in Havana did not share the pride of government public health officials. There was acts of vandalism during a historic demonstration of discontent. Protesters gathered in front of the Headquarters of the Communist Party of Cuba, where, according to The Associated Press, officers detained about 20 protesters. The officials called on Cubans who support the government to take to the streets and “fight.”
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
President Joe Biden published Monday a statement in which he accuses Cuban officials of corruption.
“The United States calls on the Cuban regime to listen to its people and attend to their needs at this vital time instead of enriching themselves.”
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