Cuban President Blames U.S. for ‘Social Unrest’ after Massive Anti-Communist Protest

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel (left) reacts with First Vice-President Salvador Antonio Valdes Mesa during the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, April 19, 2018. (Alejandro Ernesto/Pool/Reuters)

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Monday accused the U.S. of provoking social unrest in his country, one day after thousands of Cubans took to the streets to demand an end to the Communist dictatorship that has oppressed and anchored citizens in poverty for decades.

During a live television broadcast, Diaz-Canel said the U.S. has pursued a “policy of economic suffocation to provoke social unrest in the country.” He suggested that the United States is responsible for inflicting economic misery in Cuba by imposing trade sanctions.

The Cuban president also alleged that mercenaries hired by the U.S. intentionally manufactured the anti-government protests to destabilize Cuba, the BBC reported.

“We call on all the revolutionaries of the country, all the communists, to go out in the streets where these provocations will occur, from now on and in the next few days. And to face them in a decisive, firm, and courageous way,” he added, according to i24 News.

Diaz-Canel’s statement came as President Joe Biden expressed support for the demonstrators in their fight against a corrupt authoritarian regime.

“The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves,” Biden said.

Bystander videos recorded Sunday depict demonstrators marching and riding bikes and motorcycles, energetically shouting “Freedom!” “Down with Communism!”  and “We are not afraid!”

“Patria y Vida,” translating to “Homeland and Life,” is also heard amid the crowds. The slogan references a viral song released by a group of Cuban musicians abroad earlier this year that has been used as message of rebellion by anti-government activists. The song is believed to be a social commentary spoof of Castro regime-operative Che Guevara’s “Homeland or Death” speech at the United National Assembly in 1964.

In another tweet, Cuban dissidents are seen flying an American flag.

Protests have erupted in numerous Cuban cities and towns, including Havana, Santiago, Santa Clara, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Palma Soriano, Cárdenas, Colón, Guira de Melena, and Artemisa. A Cuban tracking database identified at least 25 protests ongoing in locations throughout the island.

The enraged displays are unprecedented for the country that has historically maintained a strict punitive system against civil unrest and disobedience in the public square.

The Cuban government has reportedly mobilized its police force to violently crack down against unarmed protestors, subsequent tweets have showed.

Individuals dressed in the uniforms of Cuba’s national police joined regime loyalists in throwing rocks at protestors, according to videos recorded by bystanders.

In other footage in Cardenas, Matanzas, Cuba, protestors flip over the car of a high ranking communist official.

Republican lawmakers such as Senator Marco Rubio, a politician of Cuban descent, have shared their support for the Cuban movement online. Some residents in Miami, which has a high Cuban concentration, hosted their own solidarity rally outside the city’s most famous Cuban restaurant, Versailles.

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