Protests in Cuba: more than 100 people arrested or missing after rare protests, activists say

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Movimiento San Isidro, which campaigns for greater artistic expression in Cuba, has published a list of activists who it says have been detained by the authorities.

Among the detainees is journalist Camila Acosta, according to Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares, who has requested her release.

CNN reporters on Sunday saw several people forcibly arrested and thrown into the backs of vans during protests in Havana. Videos of the protest showed protesters overturning a police car and throwing stones at police officers.

The Cuban government did not say how many people were arrested or injured during the unrest.

These are the biggest protests on the island in decades, as Cubans have complained about the lack of food and medicine as the country goes through a severe economic crisis made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and US sanctions.

A police car is overturned during a demonstration against Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on July 11.
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In San Antonio de los Banos, a town of about 46,000 people west of Havana, hundreds of Cubans took to the streets on Sunday, tired after nearly a week of blackouts during the sweltering heat of July.

“Everyone was on the streets,” one resident, who did not want to be named, told CNN. “They spent six days on just 12 hours of feeding a day. That’s one of the things that blew it up.”

In a nationally televised address later Sunday, President Díaz-Canel blamed the US trade sanctions on the economic woes of the Communist-ruled island.

Díaz-Canel also urged his supporters to physically confront the protesters. “The order to fight is given”, he declared at the end of his appearance, “the revolutionaries must be in the streets”.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel (in dark blue shirt, wearing a mask) walks with supporters Sunday after an anti-government protest in San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba.

Detained journalist

Acosta, the detained journalist, writes for ABC newspaper in Madrid, the Spanish capital.

ABC reported that she was arrested Monday morning in Havana as she left her home. Cuban security officers later searched his home and took his computer, he added. Hours earlier, she had reported on anti-government protests in the Cuban capital on Sunday.

This is not the first time Acosta has clashed with Cuban authorities for doing his job as a journalist, ABC said.

The newspaper said his arrest is “totally unacceptable”. He also called for “the immediate release of Acosta and the return of all professional equipment taken from her home”, as well as the dropping of the charges against her for alleged crimes against the security of the Cuban state.

An ABC editor confirmed to CNN that Acosta was of Cuban nationality and had worked for the newspaper for about six months.

Spanish Foreign Minister Albares demanded his immediate release in a tweet, saying that “Spain defends the right to free and peaceful demonstrations and calls on the Cuban authorities to respect it. We defend human rights.”

US President Joe Biden has warned the Cuban government not to crack down on its new rebellious citizens. But on Monday, in another lengthy televised government meeting, Cuban President Díaz-Canel said the protesters were criminals.

“They stoned the police, damaged cars,” he said. “Completely vulgar, completely indecent behavior.”

Cuban government officials said on Monday that there had been no more protests as they decreed an Internet blackout. This prevented Cubans from sharing images of protests that had grown behind the protests in the first place.

Meanwhile, US-Cuban relations are at their lowest in years. The Trump administration has adopted some of the toughest economic measures against Cuba in decades, and so far the Biden administration seems reluctant to lift them.

Biden forced to refocus foreign policy on crises in neighboring countries

The already struggling Cuban economy has been hit hard, as tourism and good imports fell sharply during the pandemic. Cuban health authorities also reported a record single-day increase in new cases and deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday.

On Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador joined Cuban officials in calling on the United States to end the trade embargo on Cuba as a humanitarian gesture. “No country in the world should be locked up, blocked, it is the opposite of human rights,” he said.

When asked why Biden had not yet reversed Trump’s Cuba policy, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that the United States had continued to provide humanitarian aid and medical supplies, but added, “I have nothing to plan for you in terms of policy change.”

And US Secretary of State Tony Blinken rebuffed criticism of the Cuban government, saying that “it would be a grave mistake for the Cuban regime to interpret what is happening in dozens of towns on the island as the result or the product of anything. the United States did. “

“This is what we hear and see in Cuba, and it is a reflection of the Cuban people, not the United States or any other outside actor,” Blinken said.

CNN’s Patrick Oppmann reported from Havana, while Al Goodman reported from Madrid. CNN’s Tara John wrote from London.

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