JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of people gathering at Riverfront Plaza on Sunday, waving Cuban flags, holding up posters that say SOS Cuba and protesting the Communist regime in Cuba.
Protestors in Cuba are being arrested, even killed for raising their voices and protesting the Communist regime. The people of Cuba currently have no internet so they can’t even see what is happening in their own country.
One Cuban immigrant told News4Jax me he was arrested 19 times by the age of 15 just for looking suspicious and saw many of his relatives being taken and imprisoned.
He said people are arrested for something as simple as wearing jeans.
“I’ve waited for 30 years for this -- 30 years of fighting alone,” Aneinar Jordan said. “It was sad not to see anyone else rise up. Finally, after 30 years, I’m once again proud of being Cuban.
People said these protests didn’t starts happening just because of the surge in COVID cases in the island nation. Oppression of Cuba’s people has been happening for 62 years and the pandemic just made the problems worse.
“There’s been 62 years with the regime,” said protestor Louis Soto. “We need freedom.”
For the seventh straight day there was a large anti-Cuba protest in Downtown Miami. Home to many Cuban exiles, thousands came out to the Freedom Tower on Saturday, a landmark for Cubans seeking a better life.
Rosa Iglesas told WPLG-TV she was 19 years old when he came from Cuba on a boat.
“What my country needed is the same thing I came here looking for: freedom,” she said.
Large Cuban protests have also been held in Orlando and Tampa over the past week.
Renay Taboada and her daughter Jennifer were there because the protests in Cuba hit close to home.
A family member of theirs is in prison right now in Cuba for protesting.
“My grandson was taken by the Cuban police on Saturday, was beaten in the street, he was hit with rocks,” Renay Taboada said. “He was taken to the police station where he was hit again.”
Taboada is from Michigan, but moved down to Florida during the Obama administration so she could be closer to her family in Cuba. But she has only been there twice.
“I’ve walked those streets the country is in shambles those people need help,” she said.
Jenifer Taboada’s nephew had rocks thrown at him by police while he was protesting and was arrested when he tried to throw rocks back at the police.
“They don’t have the right to bear arms,” Jenifer Taboada said. “Don’t have weapons, don’t have guns don’t have a way to protect themselves. It’s not a civil war. It’s a genocide.”
Jenifer Taboada also said people aren’t getting the right hospital treatment and being rationed food.
She wishes more people in the United States knew about what people in Cuba are going through.
“My half-sisters get one gallon of milk every few months,” she said. “They get told how much food they can have.”
Protestors said that Kelli Rivera Delamora was arrested for walking to a protest, and is now out of jail. But she is advised to only go to work and home.
Rick Mullaney, the director of public policy institute at Jacksonville University, said the Biden Administration has a difficult decision to make on how to move forward with the crisis in Cuba.
“It’s really challenging because the President has limited tools as to what he can do,” Mullaney said. “You want to be supportive but you don’t want to cause a crackdown on protestors. Now what’s the best policy long-term? Is it to maintain sanctions and embargo? Is it to open up trade with Cuba? It’s been challenge all along.”
Mullaney said Sen. Marco Rubio is one of many US officials who want to get the internet back up and running in Cuba.