Cuba Beefs Up Patrols After Rare Protests
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, Andrea Rodriguez reported for the Associated Press (AP).
The demonstrations in several cities and towns were some of the biggest displays of antigovernment sentiment seen in years in tightly controlled Cuba, which 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.
“We’ve seen how the campaign against Cuba was growing on social media in the past few weeks,″ President Miguel Díaz-Canel said 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 Monday, US President Joe Biden said Cuban protesters were asserting their basic rights.
Many young people took part in Sunday’s demonstrations in Havana. Protests were also held elsewhere on the island, including in the small town of San Antonio de los Baños, where people objected to power outages and were visited by Díaz-Canel. He entered a few homes, where he took questions from residents.
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, 559 miles (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.