HAVANA — In Cuba, a year ago thousands marched in protest.
On Monday, the main cities of the island looked fairly normal. Students sat at schools, people went to work and, as expected, there were lines waiting in line for food and buses. The island is currently facing severe economic difficulties.
Hundreds of people were detained during unrest in July. Some have been sentenced up to 25 year imprisonment. This is all that the sides can agree upon.
Critics from the government claimed that the events were a demonstration of Cuban resistance to oppression. It was a time when Cuba prevented a U.S .
On July 11 and 12, 2021, protesters took to the streets to vent their frustrations over shortages, long lines and a lack of political options. Some joined the march by calling out on social media while others joined spontaneously as they passed.
The economy remains in crisis with high prices and a surge in immigration to the U.S .
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The U.S. continues to impose sanctions on Cuba’s economy. Although President Joe Biden promised to lift sanctions while running for office, he has not been able to fulfill his campaign promises. He allowed Americans to send money to Cuban families, and that was in spite of all the pressure.
Relations between the countries have been difficult since the protests.
In a message to Cubans on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “Americans watched with admiration on July 11, 2021, as tens of thousands of you took to the streets to raise your voices for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a better life.” He said the U.S. stand with the marchers.
Cuba offered a completely different view.
“There were acts of vandalism and some that displayed cruelty and great belligerence,” said Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba’s President. His comments were published Monday in the official media. It is worth celebrating the victory of Cuban people and the Cuban revolution before it was turned into a soft coup .'”
Reponding to Blinken’s message, Bruno Rodriguez, the Foreign Minister of Cuba said that his message confirmed the U.S. government’s “direct involvement” in “terrorist attempts to undermine order and peace” within Cuba.
Authorities haven’t said how many people were arrested during the protests, but an independent organization formed to track the cases, Justice 11J, has counted more than 1,400. According to Cuba’s prosecution, the courts had handed down sentences for 488 demonstrators, with sentences that could have lasted up to 25 year in prison.
The government claims protesters were arrested not for political reasons, but because they violated laws against public disorder and vandalism. Many of them were allegedly at the behest of U.S.-based anti-government groups that used social media to target Cuba’s communist government system.
Saily Nunez’s husband Maikel Puig was one of the protesters. His sentence was 20 year in prison.
“It was more than just a sad day. I am proud of my husband for being there in the streets,” Nunez stated on Monday via Twitter.