The United States, Greece, and several other countries have released a joint statement condemning the Cuban government’s response to the demonstrations that took place in the country this past month. The other countries that co-signed the statement were Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Republic of Korea, and Ukraine.
The nations stated in the statement that they “condemn the mass arrests and detentions of protestors in Cuba and call on the government to respect the universal rights and freedoms of the Cuban people, including the free flow of information to all Cubans.”
This message comes shortly after the US State Department announced it would sanction the Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba Álvaro López Miera and the Cuban Ministry of the Interior’s Special National Brigade or “Boinas Negras” (Black Berets.)
The countries’ concluded their joint statement by offer support for the demonstrators who faced force at the hands of the Cuban government, and demanded that the Cuban government respect their rights:
“We call on the Cuban government to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the Cuban people without fear of arrest and detention. We urge the Cuban government to release those detained for exercising their rights to peaceful protest. We call for press freedom and for the full restoration of internet access, which allows economies and societies to thrive. We urge the Cuban government to heed the voices and demands of the Cuban people.”
“The international community will not waver in its support of the Cuban people and all those who stand up for the basic freedoms all people deserve.”
How the Cuba protests unfolded
Groups of young people marched in protest in the capital city of Havana, disrupting traffic for several hours until police moved in.
The protesters, chanting the slogans “Freedom,” “Enough” and “Unite,” were allowed to demonstrate for some time while police monitored their actions from behind. At one point, a motorcyclist even pulled out a US flag, but it was taken from him by others right away.
One middle-aged protester told the Associated Press “We are fed up with the queues, the shortages. That’s why I’m here.” The man refused to identify himself, he said, for fear of arrest.
Cuba is experiencing its worst economic crisis in decades, coupled with a new spike in coronavirus cases, as it suffers the consequences of stronger US sanctions imposed during the Trump administration along with the crippling effects of a downturn in tourism due to the pandemic.
The New York Times quoted Cuban activist Carolina Barrero as saying “It is the most massive popular demonstration to protest the government that we have experienced in Cuba since ’59.”
These most recent protests in the Caribbean nation were set off by a desperate economic crisis fueled by several factors which have combined to seemingly take Cuba to a tipping point.
The tourism dollars normally spent by Europeans and others on the island are no longer flowing in due to the pandemic. The stricter economic sanctions imposed during the previous American administration have also caused reverberations, adding to the misery as many are also out of work because so many restaurants and hotels are still shuttered due to the pandemic.