Havana Streets Quiet Following Government Crackdown In Cuba; Activists: Over 100 Arrested Or Missing
MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) - Anti-government activists in Cuba say that more than 100 people have been arrested or are missing on the island following widespread protests on Sunday.
The Cuban government has not said how many people were arrested or injured in the disturbances.
Sunday's protests were the largest protests on the island in decades, as Cubans complained about a lack of food and medicine as the country undergoes a grave economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and US sanctions.
"Everyone was in the streets," one resident, who did not want to be named, told CNN. "They have gone six days with only 12 hours of power each day. That was one of the things that blew this up."
In a nationally televised address later on Sunday, President Díaz-Canel blamed US trade sanctions for the communist-run island's economic woes.
Díaz-Canel also urged his supporters to physically confront the protestors. "The order to combat has been given," he said at the end of his appearance, "Revolutionaries need to be on the streets."
Cuban government officials on Monday said there had been no more protests as they enacted an internet blackout.
This prevented Cubans from sharing images of demonstrations that had gathered momentum behind the protests in the first place.
Meanwhile, US-Cuban relations are at their lowest point in years. The Trump administration enacted some of the toughest economic measures against Cuba in decades, and so far, the Biden administration seems reluctant to lift them.
The already struggling Cuban economy has been hit hard as tourism and good imports have dropped steeply during the pandemic. On Sunday, Cuban health officials also reported a record single-day increase for new Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Late on Sunday, heavily armed police and special forces personnel regained control of the streets in Havana and other parts of Cuba.
Earlier in the day, Cuban police forcibly detained dozens of protesters. Video captured police beating demonstrators.
Images shared on social media showed protesters throwing stones at police cars and even overturning several of their vehicles.
Cuban Americans gathered in Miami's Calle 8 to lend support to the protests.
Both the US and Cuban governments appeared stunned by the unprecedented demonstrations.
"I don't think we've seen anything like this protest in a long, long time, frankly ever," said President Joe Biden, whose administration so far has been reluctant to lift Trump-era sanctions.
Cuba woke up to empty streets following Sunday's protests.
Biden warned the island government not to crack down on Cuban protesters.
But on Monday, at another lengthy televised government summit, President Díaz-Canel called the protesters criminal.
"They stoned the police, they damaged cars," he said. "Behavior that is totally vulgar, totally indecent."
The Cuban government has also cut electricity to parts of the island.
Experts contend that the government may have regained control, but the underlying conditions that led Cubans to risk everything and call for change will not go away.
(©2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)
for more features.