Florida Governor Ron DeSantis applauded the rare anti-government protests in Cuba on Sunday night, as President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the U.S. for the unrest in a nationally televised speech.
In an unprecedented display of discontent, thousands of Cubans took to the streets in cities across the island demanding food, medicine and an end to the decades-long dictatorship amid an economic crisis, worsened by a surge in COVID-19 cases and lack of vaccines. “Freedom! We want freedom,” protesters chanted in videos shared to social media, as they marched on Havana, the country’s capital. “Down with Communism!”
“Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana,” DeSantis tweeted. “The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades & is now trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies.”
The protests are viewed as remarkable in a Communist country that represses dissidents with crackdowns enforced by police surveillance and control. Cuban officials shut down the internet in the afternoon, as law enforcement began arresting and charging protesters, while deploying tear gas to disperse the crowds.