Cuba blames US as the country sees biggest protests in decades

Cuba saw its largest anti-government protests in decades this weekend, with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel cracking down on the demonstrators. Cuban police were deployed to major cities such as Havana on Monday following the protests a day earlier.

Streets in Havana were quiet due to the ramped up police presence. Authorities have blocked social media sites in an attempt to censor information about the demonstrations. Mobile internet outages — the only way Cubans can go online — are also common. At least 100 demonstrators, journalists and activists have been arrested since Sunday’s protests, according to the exiled Cubalex human rights group.

Thousands of Cubans poured into the streets of Havana and other cities on Sunday in the largest demonstrations against the government in nearly 30 years. The protesters chanted slogans such as “Down with the dictatorship” and “We want liberty.” Others shouted “No tenemos miedo” or “We are not afraid.”

Diaz-Canel and other top Cuban officials have accused the US of orchestrating the unrest. The Cuban president said Monday that the US is pursuing a “policy of economic suffocation to provoke social unrest in the country.” He tweeted that “the counterrevolution dreams of war between Cubans” and emphasized national unity. The US has put Cuba under a comprehensive embargo since 1962, limiting economic trade.

Diaz-Canel had previously called on communist supporters to confront “provocations” by the protesters. Rogelio Polanco Fuentes, a top official in the Communist Party of Cuba, said the demonstrations were funded by the US government to foment “instability and chaos” in the country. He compared the protests to the US-backed demonstrations in 2019 against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a Cuban ally.