Thousands of Cubans dared on Sunday, July 11, to challenge Cuba’s communist regime by uniting their voices in a single cry for “freedom” and demanding the immediate resignation of de facto president Miguel Diaz-Canel. Cubans joined the protests by taking to the streets from Havana to Santiago de Cuba in what is considered the largest anti-government demonstration since the beginning of the dictatorship.

The protests erupted amid the country’s worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, its former ally, and boosted after a record increase in those infected by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, international media reported.

Citizens were outraged by the shortage of essential commodities, restrictions on civil liberties, and the authorities’ mishandling of the pandemic. 

Several Cuban citizens filmed some images. In addition, some of the few privileged citizens with internet access managed to upload the videos of demonstrators moving through the streets and expressing their disgust with the communist regime.

Although some international media covered the news trying to soften the situation by stating that the demonstrators were demanding better sanitary conditions and better care and protection from the CCP virus (COVID-19), reality shows that Cubans were demonstrating against an absolutist regime that has kept its population oppressed for decades and subjected them to extreme poverty while limiting to the maximum all kinds of civil liberties. 

In the following video, you can hear a group of demonstrators in front of a government office shouting, “Cuba does not belong to them!”

Another published video shows a crowd shouting for “freedom,” at the same time waving a U.S. flag, showing the people’s support to the historical enemy of the Cuban revolution. 

In a country known for its repressive measures against dissidents, the rallies are genuinely seen as unprecedented. Activists and analysts claim that it was the first time that so many people openly protested against the regime’s authorities. Some say that it could only be compared to the so-called “Maleconazo uprising,” which broke out in the summer of 1994 when a massive wave of Cubans left the country by sea.

The protests were triggered by the island’s severe economic crisis, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month the regime banned dollar cash deposits in its banks, limiting the only livelihood income for thousands of Cubans with relatives abroad, who send monthly remittances to support their loved ones. 

In recent months, the sharply declining living conditions have led to a considerable increase in the number of Cubans emigrating abroad, mainly to the United States, where they try to enter both by land and by sea. 

Since the beginning of the fiscal year last October, the U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted more than 512 Cubans at sea, compared to 49 for the entire previous year. 

The Biden administration avoided mentioning public discontent with the oppressive communism on the island, limiting the problem to a simple health crisis.

The only official statement on the matter for the moment was issued by Julie Chung, acting undersecretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the U.S. State Department, who said via Twitter that Cubans were exercising “their right to peaceful assembly” to protest against COVID and the “shortage of medicines.”

The administration’s statement completely ignored democracy and freedom.