MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Joe Biden "stands with the Cuban people" one day after thousands of Cubans took to the streets in rare protests Sunday to complain about a lack of freedom and a worsening economic situation.
In a statement released on Monday, President Biden said, "We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba's authoritarian regime. The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves."
Hundreds of people rallied in Miami on Sunday in solidarity with protesters in Cuba who launched the biggest anti-government demonstrations on the Communist-run island in decades.
The Miami protesters packed an intersection in the city's Little Havana neighborhood, waving Cuban and American flags and held signs that read 'free Cuba.'
The protests in Cuba erupted amid the nation's worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, its former ally, and a record surge in coronavirus infections, with people voicing anger over shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties and the authorities' handling of the pandemic.
Thousands gathered in downtown Havana and along parts of the seaside drive on Sunday, their shouts of "Diaz-Canel step down", referring to President Miguel Diaz-Canel, drowning out groups of government supporters brandishing the Cuban flag and chanting "Fidel."
The Caribbean island nation of 11 million, where public dissident is usually restricted, has seen a growing number of protests over the past year although nothing on this scale or simultaneously in so many cities.
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