Exasperated by high prices and shortages of food, fuel, and medicine amid a resurgence of COVID-19, thousands of Cubans marched in the streets of Havana and elsewhere on Sunday to demand regime change in that country. At the same time, Floridians rallied in Tampa, Orlando and Miami in support of the protesters.
According to reports, Cubans crowded streets in Havana and small towns across the island of 11 million people to protest “the worst” economic conditions “in the country’s history,” and to call for regime change there.
In response, members of the Cuban military fired on the protesters, and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel shut down internet and cell phone services throughout the island.
Closer to home, crowds of Cuban-Americans, many whose families came from that country, assembled at the Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa and proceeded to a rally at Al Lopez Park in a show of solidarity for the protesting Cubans.
Similar gatherings took place in Orlando and in Miami’s Little Havana.
Meanwhile, Florida’s political leadership also declared their support for the protesters in Cuba.
“Floridians stand with the people of Cuba,” said State Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) “May their courage and action bring the freedom, dignity and human rights they have long been denied.”
In a Tweet, Gov. Ron DeSantis called the Havana government “tyrannical.”
“Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana,” DeSantis said. “The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades and now is trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies.”
Finally, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) , ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relation’s Subcommittee Overseeing the Western Hemisphere, asked President Joe Biden to support the Cuban protesters as well.
In a letter to the White House, Rubio requested that President Biden make it a priority for the US to facilitate free internet access through Cuba, and to provide COVID-19 vaccines and other humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people.
Finally, Rubio asked Biden to keep Trump Administration sanctions against the Cuban regime in place.
“Thank you for recognizing these heroic protests as a ‘clarion call of freedom.’” Rubio said in the letter. “Now, I urge you to act on the spirit of your statement and take the necessary steps to support the Cuban people in their fight for freedom.”
DeSantis was more critical of the Biden Administration on Tuesday, stating, “Still, while the Cuban people are showing tremendous courage, the Biden Administration is showing cowardice. The Biden Administration has been weak in its statements, blaming COVID-19, and not mentioning socialism or communism. While the president and his spokespeople issue empty rhetoric, the federal government is inexplicably lifting sanctions in Venezuela. Right now, the Cuban regime is taking the measure of Washington.
“The people of Cuba are rebelling against a dictatorial government, not seeking minor policy changes that would merely be akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”
By Tuesday, police had dispersed protesters throughout Cuba, but there remained a large presence in Havana, according to reports.