Cuba govt rallies supporters after days of protests amid economic crisis

Havana/Washington, July 17 (EFE).- Thousands of people rallied in the Cuban streets on Saturday in a pro-government march days after widespread protests rocked the communist regime amid an unprecedented economic and health crises on the island.

Cubans living in exile in the United States poured out on the roads in solidarity with the anti-government protesters in Cuba, complaining that their brethren were struggling with food and medical care due to Covid-19.

The protesters blame the communist dictatorship for the crisis amid a failing economy, food shortages, and frequent blackouts.

Beleaguered by the historic street protests, the government organized a massive rally over the weekend in response to the demonstrations.

Crowds waved Cuban flags and those of the July 26 Movement that Fidel Castro led during the Cuban revolution. Protesters chanted pro-government slogans.

Many flashed photographs of the late Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl, who attended the massive rally on the seafront Malecon boulevard in the capital Havana.

The iconic landmark is very close to the embassy of the United States in Havana.

People took out similar rallies across the country to defend the government.

Raul, the 90-year-old former president, accompanied the incumbent head of the government Miguel Díaz-Canel.

In his impassioned speech, Díaz-Canel blamed the United States and its sanctions for the unrest in the country.

He alleged that Washington had instigated Cuban demonstrators. The US denied the oft-repeated accusation since July 11, when the wave of protests gathered steam.

Díaz-Canel said that the US government used social media networks and a “media intoxication campaign” to promote “hatred” among Cubans and instigate riots and a climate of instability in the island nation.

People were bussed in from different places to participate in the rally that also caused massive traffic congestion on the Havana roads.

Days before the demonstrations, some activists and netizens launched an online campaign under the hashtag #SOSCuba to collect donations for the worst-hit regions by the health crisis.

The initiative, which went viral when celebrities began tweeting about it, prompted thousands of Cubans to take took to the streets last Sunday, shouting “freedom!”

Security forces detained dozens of protesters amid clashes after the president urged his supporters to confront the demonstrators.

A man lost his life during a clash between demonstrators and security forces in Havana last Monday during the biggest protest demonstrations on the island since August 1994.

Several experts told EFE that the government response to the protests was disproportionate.

The government has denied the alleged police repression even as videos on social media networks show cops in uniforms and plainclothes using brute force to suppress the protests.

In Washington, hundreds of Cubans gathered in front of the White House, calling for “freedom for Cuba” and the US military intervention in response to the crisis on the island.

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