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Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality, Havana on July 12, 2021. Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images.
Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality, Havana on July 12, 2021. Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images.

Protests erupt in Cuba demanding freedom amid economic and health crisis

Demonstrations against the government in Cuba are rare, but they’ve captured the world’s attention this time.

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As a lack of resources continues to plague Cuba, thousands of people flooded the streets in cities across the island on Sunday, July 11 in protest of the government. The shortages of basic necessities have reached an all time high, and it was a breaking point for many to demand change and freedom. 

Dozens of videos were posted across social media capturing the demonstrations across Cuba, as thousands shouted “Freedom!” and “We are no longer afraid,” among other chants. 

The protests come during a time when Cuba faces both an economic and health crisis, with increased repression against political opponents, and a healthcare system crumbling under a new wave of COVID-19, as health authorities have reported almost 7,000 new cases and 47 deaths, according to NBC News

As reported by the Miami Herald, Cuba’s economic struggles stem from not only the current leadership, but the gradual deterioration of the country’s production capacity, including essentials, like food and agriculture. 

The Cuban government has attributed the economic crisis to a U.S. embargo against Cuba, which was enforced by former President Donald Trump. Still, the crisis has longer roots, and has been deemed one of the worst economic crises in decades due to continued political unrest. 

The U.S. also shows no signs of rolling back its sanctions.

Despite the ongoing economic crisis, many Cubans have been demanding freedom from the dictatorship for years, but have now been pushed to their breaking point as many continue losing their lives in the battle to receive the basic necessities. 

The protests began early Sunday afternoon in San Antonio de los Baños and after a few hours, demonstrations had spread to other parts of the country. With an outcry from the Cuban community all over the world, protests also began to erupt in Miami and Tampa, Florida. 

During the protest, Cuba’s current President Miguel Diaz-Canel appeared on national television, calling on the Army to confront the protesters, stating “the order to fight has been given,” according to NBC News. 

Several service outages were also implemented to prevent live broadcasts of the protest airing. As reported by Noticias Telemundo, many Cubans confirmed the government, which controls the only internet provider company, caused the outages. 

"They do not want the world to see what is happening in Cuba," a resident from Havana told Noticias Telemundo, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals from the regime. 

The protests themselves are rare in Cuba due to the political oppression residents face, but the need for action and change remains a priority. 

Over the past few days, many people across the world are raising their voices with the #SOSCuba to demand Cuba open a humanitarian channel, so residents can receive much-needed resources.

As the fight for freedom continues for Cubans, many are reminding people of its importance.

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