Republicans in Florida, including Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), as well as other officials in the state, have expressed support for protests that erupted in Cuba on Sunday.
The protests: Cubans took to the streets over the weekend in several cities in the country, demanding basic necessities and an end to the dictatorship, among other things, amid worsening economic conditions in Cuba.
Protesters chanted “Patria y vida,” which translates to “homeland and life.” The phrase is the title of a Cuban artist Yotuel Romero’s song that was released earlier this year and considered to be a reproach of Cuba’s revolutionary slogan “Homeland or Death.”
During the rare protest, demonstrators said they wanted freedom. One woman was reportedly heard saying, “The people are dying of hunger!” and “Our children are dying of hunger!”
Other protesters chanted: “We want vaccines” and “We are not afraid.”
Police used tear gas to break up the demonstrations and arrested some of the protestors.
New York Times reporter Frances Robles said she has “never ever seen anything like the protests today,” noting that she has “been covering Cuba since the 1994 rafter crisis.”
One video purported to show that even police joined the protests.
Florida’s response: DeSantis tweeted that “Florida supports the people of Cuba” in their protests as he blasted the island’s government and its policies.
Florida Republican Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez said she stands “in solidarity with the freedom-seeking people of Cuba calling for the end of the communist dictatorship.”
“The Castro’s continued repression won’t keep the Cuban people from peacefully demanding their God-given rights. As Cubans risk everything in protest, Florida will continue to support out Cuban brothers and sisters who are fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights,” she added.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) urged President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken “to call on members of the Cuban military to not fire on their own people.”
“The incompetent communist party of #Cuba cannot feed or protect the people from the virus. Now those in the military must defend the people not the communist party,” he wrote.
Rubio also posted a video of himself on Twitter, slamming the Cuban regime.
“The Cuban regime does not allow free press, the Cuban regime does not allow political organization,” he said. “They will never allow these people to organize themselves and speak freely, so we have to be those who give echo to their voice.”
Miami Republican Mayor Francis Suarez similarly asked the federal government to “take action.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) also tweeted that the Biden administration needs to weigh in on the matter and condemn Cuba’s response to the demonstration.
“The Biden administration should quickly denounce any detention or violence toward peaceful protestors in Cuba,” he wrote. “America & every freedom-loving nation must fully support the brave Cuban people in their calls for liberty & human dignity. The world is watching.”
In Tampa Bay, some residents took to the streets in support of the protests in Cuba. Tampa councilman Luis Viera joined the demonstrations, tweeting that he’s “a proud son of Cuban refugees & am proud to use my voice to support change in Cuba.”
Florida’s agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried, who’s also a Democratic candidate for governor, tweeted that it’s her hope that Cubas can “write their own future.”
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