Hundreds of Cubans took to the streets in a wave of demonstrations in Havana and at least six other cities throughout the Communist island, demanding an end to the 62-year dictatorship and protesting the lack of food and Covid-19 vaccines.
“We are not afraid! We are not afraid!” people shouted as they marched through the streets on Sunday, videos posted on social media showed. “Freedom! Freedom!”
The protests are unprecedented in a country with tight police control and surveillance on dissidents, analysts say.
In a televised address on Sunday, President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the protests on the U.S., which he said seeks to economically strangle Cuba and bring about a social explosion. Mr. Díaz-Canel called on government supporters to take to the streets. “The order for combat has been given,” he said.
On his Twitter account Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said Mr. Díaz-Canel visited the city of San Antonio de los Baños, about 20 miles from Havana, to rally pro-government supporters. Another tweet on Mr. Rodríguez’s account showed a video of pro-government demonstrators marching in Havana behind a Cuban flag shouting: “These streets belong to Fidel,” a reference to the late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro.