Cuba witnessed the largest mass protest in recent history on July 11.

Thousands of people took to the streets for the first time in more than 60 years. Protesters could be seen in some 20 towns and cities across the island shouting “we are not afraid,” “freedom” and “down with the dictatorship.”

Protests began in the city of San Antonio de los Baños, 36km (22 miles) southwest of Havana. The movment have since spread like wildfire throughout the country.

Protesters became increasingly unsettled in recent months, after the island suffered one of the worst economic and health crises in years.

In recent days and throughout the weekend, social networks were filled with messages carrying the hashtags #SOSCuba and #SOSMatanzas. Many asked for international help in the face of the critical supply shortages across the island.

On July 11, the hashtag #SOSCuba trended worldwide on Twitter. It even attracted support from celebrities in the Caribbean like recording artist Don Omar, and singers Daddy Yankee and Ricardo Montaner.

The Chinese Communist Party Virus has practically paralyzed tourism–an engine of the Cuban economic growth. It has also profoundly impacted on economic and social life on the island through soaring inflation, blackouts and shortages of food, medicine and other essential items.

At the beginning of the year, the Cuban government proposed a new package of economic reforms that made retail prices soar. Javeriana University of Cali economist Pavel Vidal estimates inflation could climb to 900 percent in coming months.

At the same time, the pandemic has also been synonymous with long queues of up to eight hours to buy oil, soap, chicken and other goods.

Power outages have become increasingly frequent, and basic medicine scarce in both pharmacies and hospitals. In many provinces they have begun to sell bread made from pumpkin due to the lack of wheat flour.

Cubans told BBC Mundo in some medical centers there is no aspirin to relieve fever, while the island also experiences outbreaks of scabies and other infectious diseases.

Protesters can no longer stand living in these conditions, and appear to have lost their fear of communist reprisal.

The Catholic Church came out in support of the people and distanced itself from the communist dictatorship.

Protests have even reached the Capitol in Havana, and other iconic buildings across the island.

The regime’s response was predictable. Dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel urged so-called “revolutionaries” to take to the streets and “confront” civilians.

BL understands such a confrontation could plunge the island into civil war, especially since images have surfaced of armed gunmen shooting the general population in “cold blood.”

Meanwhile, Cuban police officers have been forced to retreat after being confronted with masses of people who no longer fear the regime.

Some police officers have said “no” to tyranny and even agreed to protester demands in Santiago de Cuba and other cities.

The situation is uncertain. Hundreds, if not thousands of people were missing at the time of publication.

The regime has already severed internet access throughout the island to prevent protesters from communicating with each other.

For now, a general strike has been reported for July 12.

International support is growing for the Cuban people’s request for freedom. Groups of sympathizers have gathered outside of Cuban embassies in Miami, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Spain and more.

BL understands the protests were somewhat predictable and what happens next is unknown. Cuba faces an unprecedented scenario of protests and police repression that draws parallels with both the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the coming days it remains to be seen how the government reacts and, above all, if the Cuban people remain unwavering in their freedom fight.