Protests are raging across communist Cuba, as thousands of people took to the streets chanting slogans demanding freedom, democracy and vaccines.
The Havana Times called the protests 'unprecedented. The anti-government protests communist regime is witnessing are the in the biggest in almost 30 years.
Protests are taking place in San Antonio de los Baños, Alquízar, Guanajay and Güira de Melena, Güines, Palma Soriano, Luyanó and Centro Habana, the Havana Times said. There are also reports of protests from places like Pinar del Río, Villa Clara, Camaguey, Holguín, Granma and Guantánamo.
'We Are Not Afraid'
Some of the slogans heard in the protests are 'The streets belong to the people', 'Homeland and life', 'Freedom', and 'We are not afraid'.
The protesters are demanding President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down amid a crippling surge in coronavirus pandemic that destroyed the economy. The protests were fueled also by the lack of Covid-19 vaccines.
The Cuban regime paraded machine-gun fitted vehicles in the capital Havana, insisting that the protesters were manipulated by the United States and anti-Cuba social media campaigns.
"We call on all revolutionaries of the country, all communists, to go out in the streets where these provocations occur... and to face them in a decisive, firm and courageous way", President Diaz-Canel said, according to BBC.
President Warns Protesters
He added that further 'provocations' by the protesters will not be tolerated. "We are calling on all the revolutionaries in the country, all the Communists, to hit the streets wherever there is an effort to produce these provocations," the President said, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the US said it stands by the Cubans. "We are deeply concerned by 'calls to combat' in Cuba ... We stand by the Cuban people's right for peaceful assembly. We call for calm and condemn any violence," tweeted Julie Chung, the top US diplomat for Latin America.
Armed security forces were deployed, and there were reports of scuffles and arrests in the capital.
The unrest basically stems from the fact that Cubans are largely unvaccinated even as coronavirus cases are rising in the country. The lockdowns that have been in place for long have crippled the economy too.
"The government is enforcing greater restrictions on movement of the population but has done little to relieve the lack of basic food or medicine shortages that makes many people take the risk and leave their homes to get in crowded lines to purchase something to eat for themselves and their families," the Havana Times wrote a few days ago.
Anti-government protests are not common in Cuba, which has been in the iron grip of communism for decades. The current protests are the biggest since the 1994 anti-government uprising.
According to Reuters, Cuba's economy contracted 10.9 percent last year. The cash crunch was exacerbated as the tourism, the biggest source of income, all but died in the wake of the pandemic.
The arrival of the more contagious Delta variant complicated the situation further for the Cubans. Cuba reported a record 6,923 cases and 47 deaths on Sunday.