Cuba blames US for unprecedented anti-government protests

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HAVANA: Havana connected Monday (Jul 12) blamed a US "policy of economical suffocation" for unprecedented protests against Cuba's authorities arsenic Washington pointed the digit astatine "decades of repression" successful the one-party state.

The longtime foes traded barbs a time aft thousands of Cubans took to the streets chanting: "Down with the dictatorship" successful protests dispersed by constabulary who arrested dozens.

The anti-government rallies erupted spontaneously successful respective cities arsenic the state endures its worst economical situation successful 30 years, with chronic shortages of electricity, nutrient and medicine and a caller worsening of the coronavirus epidemic.

The lone authorised gatherings successful Cuba are usually events of the ruling Communist Party, but according to the information journalism tract Inventario, a full of 40 demonstrations took spot connected Sunday.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed the discontent connected the United States pursuing a "policy of economical suffocation to provoke societal unrest successful the country."

Cuba has been nether US sanctions since 1962.

"What bash they want? To provoke societal unrest" with a presumption to "regime change," helium said successful an code broadcast connected nationalist tv and radio.

'DECADES OF REPRESSION'

In a connection from Washington, US President Joe Biden expressed enactment for the protesters' request for alleviation "from the decades of repression and economical suffering to which they person been subjected by Cuba's authoritarian regime."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it would beryllium a "grievous mistake" for Cuba to blasted the United States for the protests helium said could beryllium traced to the communist leadership's "mismanagement" of the system and COVID-19.

US-Cuba relations person been peculiarly fraught since then-president Donald Trump reinforced sanctions pursuing an historical but impermanent easing of tensions nether Barack Obama betwixt 2014 and 2016.

The tougher measures, near unchanged by Biden, and the illness of tourism owed to the planetary pandemic contributed to Cuba's system declining 11 per cent successful 2020.

On Sunday, respective 100 protesters marched done the superior Havana chanting: "We privation liberty" arsenic constabulary and soldiers kept watch.

AFP witnessed officers spraying teargas and beating protesters with integrative pipes.

Social media showed scenes of rallies astir the state contempt the mobile net - only introduced to the land successful 2018 - being mostly offline connected Sunday afternoon. It remained truthful by lunchtime Monday.

'CRUEL DICTATORSHIP'

The EU and UN connected Monday called for Cuba to respect state of look and peaceful assembly.

"I would similar to telephone connected the authorities determination to let peaceful demonstrations and to perceive to the discontent being expressed by the demonstrators," EU overseas argumentation main Josep Borrell said.

A pro-government counter-demonstrator holds a awesome   that reads "The streets beryllium   to the A pro-government counter-demonstrator holds a awesome that reads "The streets beryllium to the revolutionaries" amid demonstrations against the authorities of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel successful Havana connected Jul 11, 2021. (Photo:  AFP/Adalberto Roque)

Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, himself nether occurrence astatine location for his absorption of the COVID-19 crisis, expressed "solidarity" with protesters seeking "an extremity to a cruel dictatorship".

And Trump said successful a statement: "I basal with the Cuban radical 100 per cent successful their combat for freedom".

But Mexico and semipermanent Cuban state Russia warned against utilizing the unrest arsenic a pretext for overseas interference.

"What we privation is change," said Yamila Monte, a Cuban home idiosyncratic of 54.

"I person had enough," she told AFP, recounting the trouble she and different Cubans person successful making ends meet.

Yudeiky Valverde, a 39-year-old superior schoolhouse employee, said Sunday's scenes were "incredible".

The past large protests, and the archetypal since the gyration that brought Fidel Castro to powerfulness successful 1959, were besides against economical hardship but were constricted to the superior and rapidly stopped.

Cubans, said Valverde, "are aggravated due to the fact that determination is nary food, due to the fact that determination are problems".

The state of 11.2 cardinal radical is experiencing its toughest signifier of the coronavirus pandemic, and connected Sunday reported a caller regular grounds of infections and deaths.

On Monday, determination were nary protesters near successful the streets of Havana, patrolled by constabulary and soldiers.

'INTO THE STREET, REVOLUTIONARIES!'

Sunday's demonstrations had started successful San Antonio de los Banos, a municipality 30 kilometres southwest of Havana, wherever respective thousand, chiefly young people, took to the streets.

Security forces arrived soon after, and Diaz-Canel visited the municipality surrounded by enactment activists arsenic residents heckled him, according to videos posted online.

The president Diaz-Canel delivered a combative tv code Sunday, saying: "The bid to combat has been fixed - into the street, revolutionaries!"

He called connected "all communists to spell retired successful the streets wherever these provocations hap ... and to look them successful a decisive, steadfast and courageous way".

Government supporters besides held counter-demonstrations successful Havana, wherever the Associated Press quality bureau said a video writer was assaulted by the counter-protesters and a lensman injured by police.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan cautioned Havana against "any unit oregon targeting of peaceful protesters".

Cuba's main diplomat Bruno Rodriguez retorted Monday that the US "genocidal blockade" of Cuba was the origin of its economical difficulties.

In Venezuela connected Monday, a fistful of Cuban authorities supporters gathered extracurricular the embassy successful Caracas chanting "Cuba yes, Yankees no!"

In Miami the erstwhile day, thousands of Cubans and Cuban-Americans marched successful enactment of the protesters backmost home.

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