Cubans rally outside White House and in Miami to demand Biden offer a lifeline to Havana protesters


Hundreds of people left Florida on buses Friday night headed to Washington D.C. to protest outside the White House after a week of unprecedented protests on the Communist-led island this past week.

The protests in the nation’s capital came as Raul Castro joined thousands at a government-organized rally in Havana on Saturday to denounce the U.S. trade embargo and reaffirm their support for Cuba‘s ‘revolution.’

Thousands of Cubans have protested shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties, and the government’s handling of a surge in COVID-19 infections. 

Meanwhile, demonstrators in Washington on Saturday carried signs reading ‘Freedom for Cuba’ while calling on President Joe Biden to help the suffering Caribbean nation.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Hundreds of people left Florida on buses Friday night headed to Washington D.C. to protest on the steps of the White House and Cuban embassy

WASHINGTON D.C.: Demonstrators are seen on their knees outside of the White House while protesting on Saturday

WASHINGTON D.C.: Demonstrators are seen on their knees outside of the White House while protesting on Saturday

WASHINGTON D.C.: A man is pictured draped with the Cuban flag outside of the White House on Saturday

WASHINGTON D.C.: A man is pictured draped with the Cuban flag outside of the White House on Saturday

WASHINGTON D.C.: Demonstrators shout their solidarity with the Cuban people against the communist government during a rally outside the White House on Saturday. 'Patria y vida' as seen on the flag, means 'homeland and life' in Spanish

WASHINGTON D.C.: Demonstrators shout their solidarity with the Cuban people against the communist government during a rally outside the White House on Saturday. ‘Patria y vida’ as seen on the flag, means ‘homeland and life’ in Spanish 

WASHINGTON D.C.: Demonstrators shout their solidarity with the Cuban people against the communist government during a rally outside the White House on Saturday. 'Patria y vida' as seen on the flag, means 'homeland and life' in Spanish

WASHINGTON D.C.: Demonstrators shout their solidarity with the Cuban people against the communist government during a rally outside the White House on Saturday. ‘Patria y vida’ as seen on the flag, means ‘homeland and life’ in Spanish

WASHINGTON D.C.: A protester holds a sign that reads 'COMMUNISM IS NOT AN OPTION' at a demonstration outside of the White House on Saturday

WASHINGTON D.C.: A protester holds a sign that reads ‘COMMUNISM IS NOT AN OPTION’ at a demonstration outside of the White House on Saturday

WASHINGTON D.C.: A woman holds a sign that reads 'FREE CUBA NOW!' while calling on President Joe Biden to do more to help the people of Cuba

WASHINGTON D.C.: A woman holds a sign that reads ‘FREE CUBA NOW!’ while calling on President Joe Biden to do more to help the people of Cuba

WASHINGTON D.C.: A man holds a sign that reads 'THE REGIME IS KILLING HUMANS FOR SPEAKING' at an protest outside the White House on Saturday

WASHINGTON D.C.: A man holds a sign that reads ‘THE REGIME IS KILLING HUMANS FOR SPEAKING’ at an protest outside the White House on Saturday

WASHINGTON D.C.: A woman holds a sign with the Cuban flag calling for 'FREEDOM FOR CUBA'

WASHINGTON D.C.: A woman holds a sign with the Cuban flag calling for ‘FREEDOM FOR CUBA’

WASHINGTON D.C.: Protesters carry balloons that read S.O.S. calling on aide for Cubans protesting their government

WASHINGTON D.C.: Protesters carry balloons that read S.O.S. calling on aide for Cubans protesting their government 

WASHINGTON D.C.: Protesters hold signs comparing the treatment of Cubans in their home country as the 'Cuban Holocaust'

WASHINGTON D.C.: Protesters hold signs comparing the treatment of Cubans in their home country as the ‘Cuban Holocaust’

WASHINGTON D.C.: A woman holds a sign calling for Biden to intervene with the military in Cuba

WASHINGTON D.C.: A woman holds a sign calling for Biden to intervene with the military in Cuba

Amanda Velazquez, a protester from Miami, told WPLG that Cubans are ‘suffering through a system that completely failed them and oppressed them for 60 years.’

‘With this many people get together and chant someone has to listen,’ Velazquez said. ‘We are trying to tell Biden we are here in your front door on our knees to help us to help our people.’ 

Lillian Fonseca, a protester from Hialeah, told the outlet: ‘If military won’t be able to intervene because I understand that’s not a possibility, at least if we can give them free WIFI.’

In the wake of the protests, the Cuban government had cut off internet access on on Sunday. Internet connectivity was restored on Wednesday though access to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter remained blocked on cellular networks.

On Friday, some of the protesters who boarded the six tour buses for the 15-hour drive to Washington carried signs with the faces of people missing amid the protests in Cuba.

Gabriela Lastra, 21, cried as she told the Miami Herald on Friday before boarding for Washington: ‘No one else is going to help us, unless we make them help us.’

‘My mother’s been crying for a week every time she watches the news, but she couldn’t be here because I have a little sister,’ Lastra said. 

‘If I can make even one person aware, I would be satisfied.’

HAVANA: The President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel waves a Cuban flag during an event in support for the revolution on Saturday

HAVANA: The President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel waves a Cuban flag during an event in support for the revolution on Saturday

HAVANA: The President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel, left, participates in an act of support for the revolution, in Havana, Cuba, on Saturday

HAVANA: He was joined by former President Raul Castro, right, as they waved Cuban flags

HAVANA: The President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel, left, participates in an act of support for the revolution, in Havana, Cuba, on Saturday. He was joined by former President Raul Castro, right, as they waved Cuban flags

HAVANA: The President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel, left, and Raul Castro, center, stand together as thousands of people gather in Havana in an act of support for the revolution organized by the Cuban government

HAVANA: The President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel, left, and Raul Castro, center, stand together as thousands of people gather in Havana in an act of support for the revolution organized by the Cuban government

HAVANA: Raul Castro, right, greets Cuba's President Miguel Diaz Canel, during a cultural-political event on the seaside Malecon Avenue

HAVANA: Raul Castro, right, greets Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz Canel, during a cultural-political event on the seaside Malecon Avenue

HAVANA: A woman holds a portrait of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel during an act of revolutionary reaffirmation in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: A woman holds a portrait of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel during an act of revolutionary reaffirmation in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: People carry images of Cuba's former President and First Secretary of the Communist Party Raul Castro during a rally in Havana, Cuba on Saturday

HAVANA: People carry images of Cuba’s former President and First Secretary of the Communist Party Raul Castro during a rally in Havana, Cuba on Saturday

HAVANA: Cubans participate in a rally to support the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: Cubans participate in a rally to support the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: A woman holds a portrait of former President Raul Castro during an act of revolutionary reaffirmation in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: A woman holds a portrait of former President Raul Castro during an act of revolutionary reaffirmation in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: A man is arrested during an event in support for the revolution in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: A man is arrested during an event in support for the revolution in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: A man is arrested during an event in support for the Cuban government in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: A man is arrested during an event in support for the Cuban government in Havana on Saturday

HAVANA: A man is arrested during an event in support for the Cuban government in Havana

HAVANA: A man is arrested during an event in support for the Cuban government in Havana

HAVANA: People were seen choking the man who was arrested during the event in Havana

HAVANA: People were seen choking the man who was arrested during the event in Havana

Cuban political prisoners including Jorge Luis García Pérez spoke to the crowds as they prepared to travel to Washington, according to the Miami Herald.

Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as Antunez, told the crowd in Spanish: ‘We’re not going to allow the Biden administration to laugh at the sacrifice, pain, and tears of the Cuban people.’

Carlos García, one of the organizers for the trip, told the Miami Herald that it was organized primarily using social media.

On Friday, demonstrators had painted ‘Cuba Libre’ in giant block letters on the street directly in front of the Cuban embassy in Washington.

The phrase – which literally means ‘free Cuba’ – has long been associated with both Cuban independence from Spain and later its 1959 revolution.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the giant lettering, whose format echoed the yellow ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural that was painted on a street near the White House in 2020 during U.S. protests against racism and police brutality. 

MIAMI: Cuban-Americans participate in a demonstration to show support for protesters in Cuba, in front of the Freedom Tower in Miami

MIAMI: Cuban-Americans participate in a demonstration to show support for protesters in Cuba, in front of the Freedom Tower in Miami

MIAMI: A protester in Florida holds a sign that reads 'CUBANS ARE DYING FOR FREEDOM NOT VACCINE' in a message to President Joe Biden

MIAMI: A protester in Florida holds a sign that reads ‘CUBANS ARE DYING FOR FREEDOM NOT VACCINE’ in a message to President Joe Biden

MIAMI: Cuban-Americans carry the Lady of Charity, Cuba's Patroness, while they participate in a demonstration to show support for protesters in Cuba, in front of the Freedom Tower in Miami on Saturday

MIAMI: Cuban-Americans carry the Lady of Charity, Cuba’s Patroness, while they participate in a demonstration to show support for protesters in Cuba, in front of the Freedom Tower in Miami on Saturday

MIAMI: Cuban-Americans participate in a demonstration to show support for protesters in Cuba, in front of the Freedom Tower in Miami

MIAMI: Cuban-Americans participate in a demonstration to show support for protesters in Cuba, in front of the Freedom Tower in Miami

MIAMI: Protesters carry a banner as they rally outside Freedom Tower in Miami, seen as a sign of hope to Cuban immigrants

MIAMI: Protesters carry a banner as they rally outside Freedom Tower in Miami, seen as a sign of hope to Cuban immigrants

MIAMI: An aerial view shows the large gathering of Cuban American protesters gathered outside the Freedom Tower

MIAMI: An aerial view shows the large gathering of Cuban American protesters gathered outside the Freedom Tower

MIAMI: Cuban-American protesters hold a crucifix outside of Freedom Tower in Miami in solidarity with protesters in Cuba

MIAMI: Cuban-American protesters hold a crucifix outside of Freedom Tower in Miami in solidarity with protesters in Cuba

MIAMI: Cuban-American protesters hold a crucifix outside of Freedom Tower in Miami in solidarity with protesters in Cuba

MIAMI: Cuban-American protesters hold a crucifix outside of Freedom Tower in Miami in solidarity with protesters in Cuba 

ORLANDO: Cuban protestors also held a rally in Orlando while criticizing Cuban president Diaz-Canel

ORLANDO: Cuban protestors also held a rally in Orlando while criticizing Cuban president Diaz-Canel

Erica Cunningham, a spokesperson for Washington’s Department of Public Works, told the Washington Post that crews were working to remove ‘unauthorized painting’ on Friday afternoon. 

Supporters of the Cuban government gathered on Havana’s seafront boulevard before dawn to wave Cuban flags and photos of late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his brother Raul in a reaction to the protests gripping the country. 

Raul Castro, who retired as Communist Party leader in April but had promised to continue fighting for the revolution as a ‘foot soldier,’ appeared at the rally.

Just before the rally, cops arrested a man who shouted ‘Patria y Vida’ – the title of a rap song that has become an anthem for Cuban protesters, Agence France-Presse reported. 

The Cuban government admitted some shortcomings this week but mostly blamed the protests on U.S.-financed ‘counter-revolutionaries’ exploiting economic hardship caused by U.S. sanctions.

MEXICO CITY: Supporters of the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel demonstrate in front of the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, Mexico on Saturday

MEXICO CITY: Supporters of the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel demonstrate in front of the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, Mexico on Saturday

MEXICO CITY: A boy is seen hitting some sort of effigy in a demonstration in support of the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government outside the Cuban Embassy, in Mexico City on Saturday

MEXICO CITY: A boy is seen hitting some sort of effigy in a demonstration in support of the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s government outside the Cuban Embassy, in Mexico City on Saturday

MEXICO CITY: Supporters of the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel, demonstrate in front of the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, Mexico on Saturday

MEXICO CITY: Supporters of the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel, demonstrate in front of the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, Mexico on Saturday

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party, told the crowd on Saturday that Cuba’s ‘enemy has once again thrown itself into destroying citizen’s sacred unity and tranquility.’

He said it was no small matter to call a rally as the country saw increasing numbers of COVID cases: ‘We convened you to denounce once more the blockade, the aggression and terror.’

The Cuban president also claimed that ‘what the world is seeing of Cuba is a lie’ and denounced what he called ‘false images’ spread on social media that ‘encourage and glorify the outrage and destruction of property,’ Al-Jazeera reported.

He also reportedly accused the United States of proving the protests claiming that recent events are ‘the cold calculation of an unconventional-war manual.’

Margaritza Arteaga, a state social worker who attended the Havana rally after a state bus had picked her up at 4 a.m., said: ‘This revolution will continue for a long time.’

The number of those detained during or after protests has grown as new reports trickle in amid irregular outages in internet and messaging applications on the island where the state has a monopoly on telecommunications.

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA:  Cuban citizens shouted 'freedom' while the Panamanian left expressed its solidarity with the Cuban 'revolution' during demonstrations near the Cuban Embassy in Panama City that passed without incident

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA:  Cuban citizens shouted ‘freedom’ while the Panamanian left expressed its solidarity with the Cuban ‘revolution’ during demonstrations near the Cuban Embassy in Panama City that passed without incident

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: Protesters are seen waving the Cuban flag during a demonstration against the Cuban government on Saturday

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: Protesters are seen waving the Cuban flag during a demonstration against the Cuban government on Saturday

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: Cuban citizens residing in Panama protest in front of the Cuban embassy, in Panama City on Saturday

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: Cuban citizens residing in Panama protest in front of the Cuban embassy, in Panama City on Saturday

The latest tally from exiled rights group Cubalex put those detained at 450, although some have since been released. Activists have accused authorities of repression as some videos have emerged on social media of police beating protesters.

The government has not yet given official figures for those detained although it has said it has arrested those it suspects of instigating unpatriotic unrest or of carrying out vandalism. State television has broadcast images of people looting Cuba’s controversial dollar stores and overturning empty police cars. 

There are also a number of protests happening in South Florida this weekend in and around the Miami area which is home to the largest U.S. population of Cuban Americans who have fled their home country. 

According to WTVJ, a large land and sea rally including several artists and musicians was planned for Saturday at the Freedom Tower – viewed as a symbol of hope and freedom Cuban immigrants – leading to street closures. 

Massive protests were also pictured in Panama City, Panama and in Mexico City – which both have large populations for former Cuban citizens.



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