Dozens Arrested in Cuba During Anti-Government Rallies

Cuban security forces have arrested dozens of people amid the largest anti-government protests in decades, the media and opposition sources informed.

Thousands of Cubans have joined the massive protests against the island’s communist government, demanding freedom and the dictatorship’s end.

The public has responded angrily to medicine and food shortages, the economy’s collapse, price increases, and the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the rallies that spread to all the country’s cities, including the capital Havana, protesters chanted: “freedom” and “down with the dictatorship.”

However, critics of the government can face harsh penalties for dissent.

The island’s president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, defended the repression against protesters and asked his supporters to fight them.

The Reuters news agency reported that security forces, assisted by plainclothes officers, detained pro-democracy demonstrators.

Also, footage shared on social media showed what appeared to be security forces pepper-spraying some protesters while beating and arresting them.

An Associated Press photographer was reportedly injured after a clash with officers.

Besides, the media and opposition politicians reported internet blackouts across the island.

Díaz-Canel addressed the nation in a television broadcast and claimed that the United States was behind the unrest.

He referred to the protesters as mercenaries hired by the US government to destabilize the country and called on his supporters to defend the revolution.

“The order to fight has been given – into the street, revolutionaries!” he announced.

In response to the Cuban president’s comments, the United States said it supported Cubans and called on the island’s authorities to refrain from violence and listen to its people.

In a statement released on Monday morning, President Biden said that Cubans had bravely asserted fundamental and universal rights.

“Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected,” he said.

“The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves,” Biden went on.

However, Díaz-Canel accused Cuban-Americans of stirring up resentment on social media.

He added that the North American nation, which has a decades-long history of hostilities with Cuba, has imposed a policy of economic suffocation against the island through its strict sanctions.