Cuban government suppresses protests with baseball bats, internet outages

On Monday, the protests in Cuba continued. On Sunday, in more than a dozen cities, Cubans took to the streets to demand change. They said Cuba’s 62-year-old communist authoritarian political system’s inability to deal with the public health and economic crisis has resulted in lives lost. There is a shortage of food, medicines, and COVID-19 vaccines.

🔴Cuba #SOSCuba

Pro-democracy protestors in the Cuban town of Batabanó have seized control of the Young Communists headquarters. #CubaLibre #CubaLibre

— Gabriel Hébert-Røuillier (@Gab_H_R) July 12, 2021

The #PatriaOVida political movement against communist and socialist propaganda promoted #SOSCuba in a plea for help that they had hoped would reach the international community. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel responded Monday morning by saying the “Cuban-American mafia” had paid “influencers.”

Díaz-Canel didn’t mention Lebanese-American Sarah Joe Chamoun, better known as porn star Mia Khalifa, by name. He did say that it appeared like “a certain artist with certain characteristics” was pressured into saying that he was a tyrant. In tweets directed to his account, she hurled insulting expletives at him.

“This government is not afraid. We are full of energy, we are full of enthusiasm although it hurts … It is hard what we are going through but we are convinced that we are going to face it and we are going to win,” Díaz-Canel said.

Reports that protests continue in #Cuba for a second day. #SOSCuba #PatriaYVida

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 12, 2021

Witnesses said Cuban police officers in civilian clothes were watching protesters. Some were armed with baseball bats. Protesters said Cuban authorities also caused internet outages to prevent videos and photos of the historic protests from being distributed around the world.

Opposition activists said COVID-19 patients are dying at home without treatment because hospitals are overwhelmed. During the news conference Monday, an official admitted to having challenges with hospital capacity. They report 6,750 coronavirus cases and 31 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started.

Díaz-Canel said his administration was being honest and sat by as officials delivered reports to Cuban government media Monday. A Cuban economist said the island, just as many other countries around the world, was not prepared for the pandemic.

Others at the news conference said the pandemic worsened the effects of “the U.S. blockade.” The difficulties, Díaz-Canel said, came just as former President Donald Trump enforced additional sanctions. Some Cuban officials said that enforcing the U.S. embargo during the pandemic is “genocide.”

A public health official touted scientists on the island developed several COVID vaccines including the three-shot Abdala. The Mambisa and the Soberanas vaccines remain under development and there is an ongoing study in Camaguey, a Cuban official said during a news conference.

Protesters in Havana didn’t share government public health officials’ pride. There were acts of vandalism during a historic demonstration of discontent. Protesters met in front of Cuba’s Communist Party headquarters where The Associated Press reported officers detained about 20 protesters. Officials asked Cubans who support the government to go out to the streets and “fight.”

President Joe Biden released a statement Monday accusing the regime of corruption.

“The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.”

Related social media (Expletives in Spanish)

For more about the situation in Cuba, visit Local 10 News’ “en español” page.

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