Cuban police patrol Havana, detain protesters after Sunday demonstrations

Photo: AP Police stand guard near the National Capitol building in Havana, 12 July 2021.

Cuban police are out in force on the country’s streets as the president is accusing Cuban Americans of using social media to spur a rare outpouring of weekend protests over high prices and food shortages, AP reported. The demonstrations in several cities and towns were some of the biggest displays of anti-government sentiment seen in years in tightly controlled Cuba.

The country is facing a surge of coronavirus cases as it struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades as a consequence of US sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Many young people took part in Sunday’s demonstrations in Havana. Protests were also held elsewhere on the island. Authorities appeared determined to put a stop to the demonstrations. More than a dozen protesters were detained, including a leading Cuban dissident who was arrested trying to attend a march in the city of Santiago, 900 kilometers east.

The demonstrators disrupted traffic in the capital for several hours until some threw rocks and police moved in and broke them up. Internet service was spotty, possibly indicating an effort to prevent protesters from communicating with each other.

“We’ve seen how the campaign against Cuba was growing on social media in the past few weeks,″ President Miguel Díaz-Canel said on Monday in a nationally televised appearance in which his entire Cabinet was present. “That’s the way it’s done: Try to create inconformity, dissatisfaction by manipulating emotions and feelings.”

In a statement on Monday, US President Joe Biden said Cuban protesters were asserting their basic rights. “We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,″ Biden said.

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