Demonstrators calling for change in Cuba shut down traffic on I-95

Traffic was flowing normally by 7:45 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of demonstrators calling for a change in Cuba shut down traffic Tuesday on two major Jacksonville roads.

The demonstrators holding signs and waving Cuban and American flags took to Atlantic Boulevard in front of Havana Jax, a Cuban restaurant, and blocked traffic around 7 p.m.

The group then moved up the onramp to Interstate 95 north and blocked traffic before members of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office showed up to contain the protest. At least 10 JSO cruisers eventually met the protesters on I-95 north to stop the progress of the demonstration.

Photo from News4Jax tower camera.

Traffic was back flowing normally by 7:45 p.m.

Similar rallies Tuesday afternoon and evening blocked Miami’s Palmetto Expressway and Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

MORE: 5 things to know about the rare protests in Cuba, and why they matter

Elizabeth Ruiz has a family in Cuba. She’s concerned about their safety.

“We’re crying. We’re hurting for our families back home and we want a change,” she said.

It marks the third night of demonstrations in Jacksonville. Protestors told News4Jax they plan on gathering again Wednesday night downtown.

The demonstrators are calling attention to Cuba’s worsening economic situation, failure to address the coronavirus pandemic, lack of freedom and disgust for the communist government.

The support is growing throughout the state of Florida, as it’s home to many Cuban immigrants and their families.

Demonstrators shut down traffic on Atlantic Boulevard. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Following the demonstration, Christian Hancock, public information officer at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, released a statement that reads in part:

“This evening response teams from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene of protesters blocking traffic on Interstate 95 near the Downtown-Southbank area. While JSO supports protesters and their right to peacefully take a stand for their cause, the blocking of interstate roadways is an illegal act.”

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.