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Cuban government holds mass rally in Havana after protests

WorldJul 18, 2021 02:06AM ET
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5/5 © Reuters. People carry a poster with photographs of Cuba's late President Fidel Castro, Cuba's President and First Secretary of the Communist Party Miguel Diaz-Canel and Cuba's former President and First Secretary of the Communist Party Raul Castro during a rally i 2/5

By Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) - Raul Castro was among thousands who attended a government-organized rally in Havana on Saturday to denounce the U.S. trade embargo and reaffirm their support for Cuba's revolution, a week after unprecedented protests rocked the communist-run country.

Government supporters gathered on the city's seafront boulevard before dawn to wave Cuban flags and photos of late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his brother Raul. The latter retired as Communist Party leader in April but promised to continue fighting for the revolution as a "foot soldier".

The rally was a reaction to demonstrations https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/street-protests-break-out-cuba-2021-07-11 that erupted nationwide last Sunday amid widespread shortages of basic goods, demands for political rights and the island nation's worst coronavirus outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

The government admitted https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/cuba-lifts-food-medicine-customs-restrictions-after-protests-2021-07-15 some shortcomings this week but mostly blamed https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/cubas-president-blames-discontent-us-sanctions-2021-07-12 the protests on U.S.-financed "counter-revolutionaries" exploiting economic hardship caused by U.S. sanctions.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party, told the crowd that Cuba's "enemy has once again thrown itself into destroying citizen's sacred unity and tranquility."

He said it was no small matter to call a rally as the country saw increasing numbers of COVID cases: "We convened you to denounce once more the blockade, the aggression and terror."

Authorities said similar rallies were held nationwide.

"This revolution will continue for a long time," said Margaritza Arteaga, a state social worker who attended the rally in Havana.

Workers had been convened by neighborhood block committees, known as the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, she said, and a state bus had picked her up at 4 a.m.

Shortly before the rally in Havana officially began, authorities removed a man shouting anti-government slogans including "freedom" from the crowd.

The number of those detained during or after protests has grown as new reports trickle in amid irregular outages https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-unrest-idAFKBN2EJ218 in internet and messaging applications on the island where the state has a monopoly on telecommunications.

The latest tally from exiled rights group Cubalex put those detained at 450, although some have since been released. Activists have accused authorities of repression as some videos have emerged on social media of police beating protesters.

The government has not yet given official figures for those detained although it has said it has arrested those it suspects of instigating unpatriotic unrest or of carrying out vandalism. State television has broadcast images of people looting Cuba's controversial dollar stores and overturning empty police cars.

Cuban government holds mass rally in Havana after protests
 

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Comments (5)
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Jul 18, 2021 10:34AM ET
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You can forget about any protests going anywhere in Cuba against the government. That's what happens when you have an unarmed population
Aaron Chaff
AayAayRon Jul 18, 2021 2:16AM ET
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Contrary to prevalent myth, Commies have a lot in common with Nazis. Like a lot. Way more areas of agreement than disagreement.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jul 17, 2021 11:53PM ET
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Did Bernie and AOC attend the rally of Cuban government workers and bureaucrats?
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jul 17, 2021 11:53PM ET
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The rhetoric and actions of the the Dems and the Biden team againt their opposition has empowered despots and dictators around the world to supress disent. Expect to see more of this.
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Jul 17, 2021 5:39PM ET
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Biden communist policies will turn USA into a Cuba with help of Big Tech to enslave us all. Cubans have no freedom of speech, no freedom of press, no freedom of religion, no freedom to protests, 2nd amendment abolished and it was all started like classic socialist utopia.
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Jul 17, 2021 5:37PM ET
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Cuban communist governemnt is like Reuters they just lie.
 
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