President Joe Biden said the United States supports the Cuban people taking to the streets in a rare anti-government protest against food shortages and mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis, McClatchy reported. The small island country is struggling with a surge of coronavirus cases and the worst economic crisis in its history.
“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” Biden said in a statement. “The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights.
“Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected,” Biden continued. “The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.”
The President’s statement comes a day after a wave of protest has swept through the Cuban capital of Havana and other cities large and small in the largest protests against the country’s regime in decades.
Videos show protestors shouting “freedom” and waving American flags, and police beating and shooting at the protestors.
Cuba’s unelected President and head of the governing Communist Party Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the United States and vowed to crack down against the protestors, encouraging those loyal to the regime to take to the streets.
National Security adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted that the United States “would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights.”