Thousands of demonstrators marched in cities across Cuba on Sunday, protesting food and medicine shortages, blackouts, and the surge in coronavirus cases.
Cuba is in the midst of an economic crisis, and these anti-government protests are the largest in decades. In Havana, protesters gathered on the Malecon promenade, shouting "Freedom!" "Enough!" and "Unite!" As they marched by buildings, residents came out onto their balconies and clapped and cheered. After several hours, some demonstrators began throwing cobblestones at police officers, and that is when authorities began arresting people. One protester told The Associated Press he was participating because he was "fed up with the queues, the shortages."
In response to the protests, President Miguel Díaz-Canel accused the "Cuban-American mafia" of "creating a whole campaign" and encouraging "demonstrations across the country." U.S. officials are watching the situation closely, with Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, praising the demonstrators on Twitter, saying they were exercising their right "to peaceful assembly to express concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages. We commend the numerous efforts of the Cuban people mobilizing donations to help neighbors in need."