Cuban president urges country’s ‘revolutionary’ citizens to counter protesters

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Thousands of Cubans took to the streets in Havana to lash out at the worsening conditions in the country under the communist regime—the biggest protest in decades—prompting the country’s president to call on “revolutionary” citizens to counter the protesters.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party, addressed the country and blamed the U.S. for stoking the anger, according to the Washington Post. 

“We are prepared to do anything,” he said. “We will be battling in the streets.”

Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, along with a resurgence of coronavirus cases, as it suffers the consequences of U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, took to Twitter to say the “U.S. supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights.” 

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel is seen during a demonstration held by citizens to demand improvements in the country, in San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba, on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Yamil LAGE / AFP) (Photo by YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

Many of the protesters in the town of San Antonio de los Banos were young and hurled insults at Diaz-Canel. They shouted that they are “not afraid.”

In 2009, a year after Raul Castro formally replaced Fidel as Cuba’s president, Díaz-Canel became minister of higher education. In 2012 he rose to one of Cuba’s vice presidencies and soon thereafter was named first vice president.

“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,” Diaz-Canel said, according to Reuters.

Witnesses told the Post that tear gas was deployed and dozens of protesters were detained. The paper said there were multiple people wounded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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