There was a heavy police presence in Cuba’s capital, Havana, on Monday, with the streets calm following Sunday’s anti-government protests.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel gave a nationally broadcast speech in which he blamed the unrest on “a policy of economic suppression” by the United States. He said the origins of problems cited by the protesters, including shortages of food, electricity and medicine, are all the result of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected that position, saying “it would be a grievous mistake for the Cuban regime to interpret what is happening in dozens of towns and cities across the island as the result or product of anything the United States has done.”
U.S. President Joe Biden said those protesting “are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime.” He added that the United States “stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights, and we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence in their attempt to silence the voices of the people of Cuba.”
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro expressed his government’s support for Díaz-Canel on Monday and said, “If the U.S. really wants to help Cuba, let it immediately lift the sanctions and the blockade against its people.”
The protests were the largest anti-government demonstrations in Cuba in decades.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, AFP and Reuters.