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Cubans Rally in US in Support of Protesters in Cuba


People rally in solidarity with protesters in Cuba, in Little Havana neighborhood in Miami, Florida, July 12, 2021.

Cuban Americans gathered again Monday outside a restaurant in Little Havana in Miami to show support for protesters in Cuba.

On Sunday, nearly 5,000 people showed up at the Versailles Restaurant, a well-known gathering spot for people of Cuban descent, local media reported. They waved Cuban and U.S. flags and shouted "Viva Cuba libre" and "Down with communism!"

Demonstrators also gathered outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

Cuban citizens take part in a demonstration against Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government outside the Cuban Embassy, in Mexico City on July 12, 2021.
Cuban citizens take part in a demonstration against Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government outside the Cuban Embassy, in Mexico City on July 12, 2021.

In Miami, social media showed a smaller gathering outside the restaurant on Monday. The local CBS4 news station said hundreds of cars driving by honked in support of demonstrators.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told the local news station on Monday that the previous day's protests in Cuba were "a spontaneous uprising that has never happened in the last 60 years. It happened in more than a dozen cities across Cuba."

"The United States and the international community must do something now,” Suarez told the gathering outside the restaurant, according to the local CBS new station. “The people of Cuba need medicine. They are starving. They are in need of international help. Unless the Cuban military turns on the government, the people of Cuba will continue to be oppressed without any hope of freedom in the future."

"Sixty years of Communism, cruelty and oppression cannot last any longer!" Suarez, who had taken part in Sunday's demonstration, wrote on Twitter after denouncing Cuban police, who had beaten and detained some demonstrators.

Frustrated by the country's repressive dictatorship and the lack of food and medicine exacerbated by the coronavirus, thousands of Cubans took to the streets in dozens of cities across the country Sunday. Inventario, a website specializing in Cuban data, tracked at least 25 protests in different locations throughout the island, the Miami Herald reported.

Many Americans of Cuban origin gathered in the U.S. as a gesture of support.

"I am very moved because I did not think it would take place," Aleida Lopez, a Cuban living in the U.S. state of Florida, told Agence France-Presse on Sunday.

"The young people have finally said 'enough is enough. We will do what the older ones could not do,'" Yanelis Sales, a Cuban American, told AFP.

Cuba's protests were the first major popular mobilization since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. In Cuba, the only permitted gatherings are usually those of the Communist Party, AFP reported.

A woman holds a Cuban flag during a demonstration in support of anti-government protests in Cuba, in front of the Spanish parliament in Madrid, Spain, July 12, 2021.
A woman holds a Cuban flag during a demonstration in support of anti-government protests in Cuba, in front of the Spanish parliament in Madrid, Spain, July 12, 2021.

In Florida, state Governor Ron DeSantis said on Twitter that "Florida supports the people of Cuba who take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana," AFP reported.

"The next few days will be decisive for Cubans who demand freedom," Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez told AFP on Monday.

On Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden urged Cuba to "refrain from any violence and any attempt to silence the people of Cuba."

He added: "The Cuban people are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime. I don't think we've seen anything like this protest in a long, long time, if, quite frankly, ever."

Cuban American Gianni Leyva, who was among 25 people who demonstrated in front of the White House in Washington on Monday, told AFP, "This is the start of change … I hope that the Cuban people stay out there in the streets. I hope they fight. They fight for their freedom."

"Let's hope the president and Congress take a step in the right direction and help my country," Sergio Alvarez, a Cuban-born electrician, told AFP. He said his father died last year on the island for lack of medical care.

Some information for this report came from Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press.

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