Little Havana’s Friday gallery night prepares to welcome SOS Cuba protestesters

Miami’s Little Havana businesses prepared to welcome back SOS Cuba protesters on Friday evening.

Protesters will be joining tourists and the area’s regulars of the weekly gallery night known as “Viernes Culturales,” Spanish for “Cultural Fridays.” The stage this Friday will be used to show solidarity with artists on the island who face censorship and harassment.

Cuban-American demonstrations have been ongoing this week in Miami-Dade County, as a response to the uprising in cities across the communist island Sunday. The protesters’ anthem “Patria Y Vida,” Spanish for “Homeland and Life,” continued to be heard in chants, rhyme, and song. It was also on T-shirts and signs.

The artists wrote it to antagonize communist propaganda that is more than half a century old. It was inspired by the late Fidel Castro’s rallying cry of “Socialism or Death” and the slain “Che” Guevara’s “Homeland or Death” 1964 speech in the United Nations. Sandra Camargo said she doesn’t listen to music in Spanish, but when she heard the song this week she was in tears.

“The assassins’ failed promises are still killing people today. My family has suffered so much and we still have distant relatives who need our help,” said Camargo, 33, who said she is going to march and pray with her children, husband, and parents. “We send money to family in Madrid and they send it to Cuba, but even with money they can’t find soap, shampoo, food, or anything.”

Camargo said she has two Uber rides scheduled from Coral Gables to Little Havana so the family can participate in the 2-mile march on Eighth Street from Versailles at Southwest 36th Avenue to the Domino Park at Southwest 15th Avenue.

At the meeting point in Versailles, a sign shows a quote attributed to a Cuban poet that is beloved in both the island and South Florida. “Only oppression should fear the full exercise of freedom” — José Martí.

Near Domino Park, there is a pink mural with the hashtag “Patria Y Vida.”

Miami-Dade’s SOS Cuba protesters from downtown Miami to Hialeah, Kendall, and Westchester have been asking U.S. President Joe Biden to intervene. There have been rallies and marches and illegal roadblocks to call for an end to communism in Cuba.

Despite internet connectivity problems and power outages, Cubans have been able to share videos with friends and family in South Florida showing authorities’ violent crackdown. Cubans reported beatings, shootings, and raids at the hands of police.

Witnesses fear for their lives. A resident in Havana told a friend in Hallandale Beach that police had shot a protester in the head. An activist in Cardenas said special forces stormed into a family friend’s home and left a pool of blood behind during an arrest.

Cuban Americans in South Florida said they are worried about their families in Cuba. Aside from the violent repression and judicial harassment, they are reporting food and medicine shortages. They say COVID patients are dying at home without access to healthcare, and there is plenty of propaganda about the coronavirus vaccines developing in Cuba, but there is a lack of access to the shots.

There is a sense of urgency. In the way Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated against racism on Interstate 95, Cuban flags made it to the illegal blocking of traffic on different parts of the Palmetto Expressway this week.

On Thursday night, after a massive afternoon march in Hialeah, protesters remained on West 49th Street, just west of the Palmetto Expressway late into the night. The Florida Highway Patrol released a statement warning that state troopers are working with local law enforcement agencies to keep state roadways safe.

In Little Havana Friday, Miami police officers said they have been closing areas of Eighth Street, better known as Calle Ocho, to keep both pedestrians and drivers safe. The march from Versailles to Domino park will likely prompt that again.

3 p.m. report

COMPLETE COVERAGE

The historic SOS Cuba protests in cities on the communist island on July 11 prompted a series of demonstrations in Miami-Dade County.Mother of journalist Henry Constantin fears for his life, after he was detained in CubaGente de Zona on Cuba: ‘It is the people who are marching’DHS: Florida boaters risk fines, prison by going to Cuba

Coverage on July 15

SOS Cuba protesters march on West 49th Street towards the Palmetto Expressway Thursday in Hialeah.SOS Cuba protesters march in Hialeah ‘for Cuba to be free, just like we are’DeSantis calls on Biden to help restore internet access to CubaCuba’s leader lays some blame for protests on his governmentPassengers arriving at MIA from Havana talk about experience in CubaDeSantis presses Biden to help keep internet flowing in Cuba

Coverage on July 14

SOS Cuba protesters march from Versailles to Freedom Tower Wednesday night in Miami. Hundreds of Miami’s SOS Cuba protesters sing ‘Patria y Vida’ in Little HavanaCuba’s president says government has some blame for protestsMiami SOS Cuba boaters eager to deliver humanitarian aid, show supportViolent crackdown in Cuba: Soldiers leave ‘pool of blood’ during arrest in Cárdenas, activist saysCuban government uses special units to intimidate protestors on the island

Coverage on July 13

SKY 10 shows #SOSCuba protesters takeover Palmetto for hours on Tuesday in Miami-Dade County.Tamiami Park’s ‘SOS Cuba’ rally marks anniversary of 1994 tugboat massacre Drivers on Okeechobee Road show solidarity with SOS Cuba protesters disrupting trafficMiami-Dade ‘SOS Cuba’ protesters on Palmetto Expressway: US needs to end communismFor 3rd night, Little Havana drivers honk to join ‘SOS Cuba’ protest outside Versailles

Coverage on July 12

Cuban exiles rally at Versailles Restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood in support of protesters in Cuba, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Marta Lavandier/)Cuban Americans in Miami warn China-Russia intervention could cause ‘bloodbath’ in Cuba Alleged witness asks Florida friend to let world know police brutality followed Havana protest Cuban government aggressively suppresses protests Biden calls ‘remarkable’ Cuba protests a ‘call for freedom’ Cuban leaders beef up police patrols after rare protests Cuba’s internet cutoff: A go-to tactic to suppress dissent #SOSCuba: Local celebrities, artists react to Cuban protests

Coverage on July 11

People protest in front of the Capitol in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, July 11, 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators went out to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs, amid the new coronavirus crisis. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Ramon Espinosa/)People take to streets of Cuba and Miami, demanding freedom for struggling island nation

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

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