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This Is What The Historic Anti-Government Protests In Cuba Look Like

The protests started on Sunday and have spread rapidly as thousands of Cubans are frustrated by hunger and basic supply shortages.

Posted on July 15, 2021, at 6:32 p.m. ET

Reuters

People react during protests against and in support of the government in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Anti-government protests have erupted in Cuba this week over the lack of access to food and basic medical supplies amid a rise in COVID cases.

The country has suffered from massive inflation and long blackouts as long-standing US sanctions that restrict access to basic goods and financing, and decades of government corruption and mismanagement, have been made worse by a decline in tourism during the pandemic.

The protests started on Sunday and have spread rapidly across the country as thousands of Cubans are frustrated by hunger and basic supply shortages. “Our children are dying of hunger,” shouted one protester in a video posted to Facebook. Another video on Twitter appeared to show protesters calling to “change the system.”

The protests are the largest in recent memory, and government forces, which are typically quick to repress demonstrations, initially struggled to retain control. Some musicians, who along with artists faced suppression for speaking out, also made statements in support of the protesters.

Intermittent internet shutdowns and harassment and detention of journalists have made it difficult to verify events on the ground; however, photos and videos have emerged showing both uniformed and plainclothes officers beating protesters with batons and appearing to shoot at them. At least one person has been killed, and Amnesty International said that at least 150 others have been reported missing and may have been detained.

While the government appears to have softened its stance somewhat, lifting a tax on importing goods to the island, it may not be enough to quell the protests. “No, we don’t want crumbs. We want liberty. Blood has not run in Cuban streets to be able to import a few more suitcases,” tweeted blogger and government critic Yoaní Sánchez.


A crowd of people is seen running across the lawn of a government building
Stringer / Reuters

People run during protests against the government in Cuba.

Stringer / Reuters

Demonstrators clash during protests in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Yamil Lage / AFP via Getty Images

Cubans are seen outside Havana's capitol during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in Havana on July 11, 2021.

Adalberto Roque / AFP via Getty Images

AP photographer Ramon Espinosa is attacked by the police while covering a demonstration against Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in Havana on July 11, 2021.

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

People clash with plainclothes police during protests in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Stringer / Reuters

Plainclothes police officers detain a person during protests outside the capitol building in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

A man films with a mobile phone from inside a vintage car during a protest in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Yamil Lage / AFP via Getty Images

A sign of the Cuban vaccine candidate against COVID-19, Abdala, is seen in a car in Havana on July 1, 2021.

Yamil Lage / AFP via Getty Images

People wait to be vaccinated with the Cuban vaccine candidate Abdala in Havana on July 9, 2021. The Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices authorized on July 9 the emergency use of the vaccine.

Maria Alejandra Cardona / Reuters

Emigres in the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami, Florida, react as they gather following reports of protests in Cuba against its deteriorating economy on July 13, 2021.

Maria Alejandra Cardona / Reuters

A demonstrator bangs on a pot as people rally in solidarity with protesters in Cuba in the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami, Florida, on July 12, 2021.

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

People shout slogans during protests in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

People protest in front of the capitol in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators went out to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs amid the coronavirus crisis.

Reuters

People walk during protests in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Police detain an anti-government demonstrator during a protest in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Plainclothes police detain an anti-government protester during a protest in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Yamil Lage / AFP via Getty Images

Police cars are seen overturned in the street in the framework of a demonstration against Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in Havana on July 11, 2021. Thousands of Cubans took part in rare protests Sunday against the communist government, marching through a town chanting "Down with the dictatorship" and "We want liberty."

Yamil Lage / AFP via Getty Images

People take part in a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in Havana on July 11, 2021.


Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

People shout slogans against the government during a protest against and in support of the government amid the coronavirus outbreak in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Eliana Aponte / AP

Caution tape blocks the street at the entrance of the National Capitol building in Havana, Cuba, on July 13, 2021. Cuban police were out in force after a rare outpouring of weekend anti-government protests.




A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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