Cuba: Thousands rally against government as economy struggles

Thousands rally against government as economy struggles
A number of protesters were arrested in Havana. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: Thousands of people in Cuba hit street for the biggest protests for decades against the island’s Communist government.

Protestors marched in big cities including the capital Havana, shouting, “Down with the dictatorship!”.

Social media images and videos showed what appear to be security forces detaining and beating some of the protesters.

Cubans have been angered by the collapse of the country’s economy, as well as the authorities’ handling of the pandemic and restrictions on civil liberties.

The protesters were demanding a faster vaccination programme against Covid-19 after Cuba reported a record of nearly 7,000 daily infections and 47 deaths on Sunday.

Cuba’s largely state-controlled economy shrank by 11% last year, its worst decline in almost 30 years. It was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and US sanctions.

Thousands of pro-government supporters also took to the street after the president Miguel Díaz-Canel urge them to defend the revolution – referring to the 1959 uprising which ushered in decades of Communist rule.

The President of Cuba said the protests were a provocation by mercenaries hired by the United States to destabilise the country.

“The order to fight has been given – into the street, revolutionaries!” Mr Miguel said in an address on TV.

Julie Chung, the top US diplomat for Latin America, tweeted: “We are deeply concerned by ‘calls to combat’ in Cuba.”

The diplomat said: “We stand by the Cuban people’s right for peaceful assembly. We call for calm and condemn any violence.”

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