Saturday 10/16/21
DEMONSTRATION

Cuban president at rally after protests: 'World sees a lie'

Cuba's economy is suffering badly from the collapse of tourism in the pandemic as well as from US sanctions
15 July 2021, Spain, Barcelona: A protester holds a flag with the face of Ernesto Che Guevara that says, until victory during a demonstration in front of the US Consulate in Barcelona against the United States blockade of Cuba and in solidarity with the Cuban peopl. Photo: Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire/dpa.
A protester holds a flag of Ernesto Che Guevara during a demonstration in front of the US Consulate in Barcelona. Photo: Thiago Prudencio/dpa.

After rare mass protests in Cuba, the government has brought thousands of people to the streets in Havana and other cities for rallies.

"Long live free Cuba! Free from interference and the hatred that has been fomented against it," President Miguel DIaz-Canel told a crowd on the Malecon waterfront in the capital on Saturday morning.

"What the world sees of Cuba at the moment is a lie," he said, referring to the protests.

Also present was Raul Castro, the 90-year-old brother of the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Diaz-Canel had replaced Raul Castro first as president and in April as head of the only authorized party, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

Many participants had reportedly been brought to the Havana rally in buses.

Last Sunday, thousands of Cubans had spontaneously demonstrated in numerous cities for freedom, against oppression and scarcity. There had not been such protests in the Caribbean state for decades. There were also demonstrations abroad by Cuban exiles and sympathizers.

Collapse of tourism

Cuba's economy is suffering badly from the collapse of tourism in the pandemic as well as from US sanctions. There is a shortage of food and medicine. In addition, the coronavirus figures have recently risen significantly.

The authoritarian government described the protests as violent unrest instigated by the US to divide Cubans.

Diaz-Canel called for the Cuban revolution of 1959 - that is the socialist system - to be defended in the streets. Security forces and men in civilian clothes with sticks in their hands broke up the demonstrations with violence.

Hundreds of people were arrested - including many activists, some of them prominent, and at least seven journalists - and an unknown number injured. The government reported one death. Many people went missing.

According to human rights activists, those arrested were denied legal assistance. In addition, internet access on the island was blocked to a large extent.

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