Cuba witnesses huge anti-govt protests in decades

Puerto Rico: Dozens of protesters remain in custody in Cuba with authorities’ crackdown on dissent following the largest mass demonstrations in years.

The privately-run Internet monitoring firm NetBlocks said that social media and messaging sites such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram were being partially disrupted on the tightly-controlled communist island.

Earlier in the day, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed social media for fanning the flames of discontent that erupted into weekend protests. Facebook  didn’t immediately reply to an email requesting comment.

The Cuban government “will not turn the other cheek for those who attack us online or in the real world,” he wrote on Twitter. “We will avoid revolutionary violence, but we will repress counterrevolutionary violence.”

The government has not said how many people have been detained, but Cuba Decide, a pro-democracy group on the island, released a list of 57 people it said had been arrested or were unaccounted for.

Over the weekend, thousands took to the streets to decry rising prices, lack of basic goods and frequent blackouts. In rare public-displays of anger on an island that punishes dissent, there was sporadic looting and confrontations with security forces. In one incident, crowds flipped a police car.

Diaz-Canel blamed the anger on the US trade embargo, which he said was starving the island of fuel and forcing power cuts. Cuba is also seeing a new peak of Covid-19 cases, which have required the government to channel electricity to hospitals and health centers at the expense of everyday Cubans, he said.

The protests represent one of the first major challenges to the leadership of Diaz-Canel who took office in 2018 and replaced Raul Castro as the head of Cuba’s Communist Party in April. (The Print)

Image courtesy of (Wikipedia)

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