The Cuban community in Florida showed on Tuesday to their compatriots on the island that “they have support from outside” through the blockade of an important highway, protests on the popular Calle Ocho in Miami and a call for the “end of the regime” in an act that remembered 37 of its “victims” on the 27th anniversary of the sinking of the “Tugboat 13 de Marzo.”
“If Cuba is in the streets, so is Miami” was the slogan that brought together exiles from this city, as well as from Tampa, on the west coast, in support of last Sunday’s street protests in Cuba, the strongest that have occurred in that country in the last six decades.
Today’s heavy rains did not discourage hundreds of Cuban-Americans and exiles, who, organized through social networks, called for an “intervention” by Joe Biden’s government to avoid bloodshed on the island.
A thousand of them surprised drivers on the Palmetto Expressway with banners reading “Biden, we demand an answer” or “Patria y Vida”, the anthem of those demanding change in Cuba.
Requesting Biden’s support
Singing that anthem, brought to fame in 2020 by Yotuel Romero and Descemer Bueno, among other Cuban artists, the demonstrators with tents and umbrellas stopped the flow of vehicles on the Palmetto to demand “the end of the dictatorship” and urge the Cuban people not to surrender.
This demand was repeated at various points along Calle Ocho, among them the popular Cuban restaurant Versailles.
Also in Tamiami Park, where a minute of silence was held to remember the 37 people killed on the 27th anniversary of the sinking of the “Tugboat 13 de Marzo”, for which the Cuban authorities are held responsible.
The minute of silence is “for those who are fighting now in Cuba”, said priest José Luis Menéndez.
“The Castro regime tries to pretend that what is happening in Cuba are hunger protests, asking for vaccines”, but no one is asking for that but “an intervention” to achieve their freedom, said dissident and former politician José Luis García Pérez “Antúnez.”
For her part, Silvia Iriondo, of the MAR Por Cuba organization, was proud of how the exile community has responded in this “historic” moment.
“My brother is fighting in the streets (in Cuba), we need all countries to help us because we are unarmed in the streets. Our brothers are having their nails and eyes gouged out,” Cuban Deisy Gonzalez told Efe.
Several of those attending Tamiami told the media that once the event was over they would go to protest in the vicinity of the Southern Command, responsible for the U.S. Armed Forces in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Freedom for Cuba is now, we can’t keep waiting”, a Cuban woman told the press in the middle of the crowd, while another one reproached the Biden administration for “doing nothing”.
“Biden, those who voted for you need you now,” said another demonstrator at the Versailles restaurant.
Soft on Cuba?
John Jimenez, who arrived in the United States six years ago, told Efe that Biden’s pronouncement was late and “very soft.”
“This is Cubans supporting Cubans, from hand to hand, from town to town, because we lack international support,” complained this Cuban who got up early today to take water and masks to Miami’s Pelican Harbor Marina to send to Cuba.
Jimenez said he does not know who is the organizer of the initiative and noted that on Monday afternoon dozens of Cubans and boats gathered spontaneously at the same marina to bring aid to the island.
“The idea is to get closer in case the opportunity arises to enter (the island), to have supplies to be able to help the people,” he said.
Exile leaders and Cuban-American congressmen asked President Biden on Tuesday to intervene to restore the Internet to the Cuban people who are protesting in the streets demanding freedom and not to negotiate with the dictatorship of Miguel Díaz-Canel.