Hundreds of Cubans gathered in south Florida on Tuesday to protest — not the lack of medical supplies in Cuba — but the brutal communist regime abusing their family and friends back home.
Cuban and American flags filled the streets of downtown Naples FL as protesters joined others around the country and in Cuba to oppose a dictatorship that has gripped the island since 1959, when Fidel Castro took over.
“It is misinformation that COVID [Chinese coronavirus] and hunger is causing the protests in Cuba. That’s not the truth. People are tired of the government. They are tired of not being free, and that’s what they are fighting for,” said protester and local singer Yenier Alvarino, who is part of a musical duo with Adrián Arteaga called Arteaga y El Yen.
Thousands of Cubans took to the streets in at least 20 provinces in Cuba on Sunday to peacefully demand the end of communism. The waves of discontent were captured on social media, which helped Cubans communicate across the country and band together for the island’s largest demonstration in decades.
Though protests have continued, hundreds of people are likely missing and police have reportedly peppered crowds with bullets to subdue opposition.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel, the figurehead of the Castro regime, responded to the protests by urging “revolutionaries” to violently assault unarmed protesters on the streets, describing his call as an “order of combat,” Breitbart News reported. In response to Díaz-Canel’s order, both uniformed and plain-clothes police officers have unleashed a wave of repression on protesters that has included shooting at them, attacking them with dogs, and public beatings.
The regime also appeared to shut down internet access to stem the flow of “citizen journalist videos depicting extreme repression.”
“ Yes I do — we all do,” Arteaga said at the Naples protest when Breitbart News asked if he still has family in Cuba. Arteaga said he came to the United States when he was 18 years old “looking for freedom.”
Naples, which is two hours across the state from Miami, has a relatively large Cuban population. Many families move to the beachside town in search of a more suburban lifestyle than Miami offers, and most have relatives and friends still in Cuba.
“It’s really hard. Some of our families only communicate to us through WhatsApp and Facebook. When the internet shuts down, it’s really hard to get ahold of them. That’s what they do, they cut down the internet,” Arteaga said.