World leaders are expressing their support for the Cuban people after demonstrations broke across the island on July 11.
Foreign Minister for the European Union (EU) Josep Borrell urged the Cuban government “to listen to these protests of discontent” during a press conference July 12 in Brussels after meeting with EU foreign ministers.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, called the protests “a historic day for Cuba” while expressing concern over reports of “internet blackouts, arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force — including police firing on demonstrators” as well as “a long list of missing persons.”
Guevara-Rosas called on Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and his government to “address the social demands of its citizens, given the economic crisis, the shortages of food and medicine, the collapse of the health system — which is not responding to the current COVID-19 crisis — and the accumulation of historical demands for respect of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters in Mexico City on July 12 that a “truly humanitarian gesture” would be for the United States to lift the five-decade economic embargo of Cuba.
“No country in the world should be fenced in, blockaded,” he said.
In the United States, Francis Suarez, mayor of Miami, Florida, called on the Biden administration to lead an international effort to help Cubans, who are suffering under the island’s long-serving communist government, he said.
“The government of Cuba is an illegitimate government,” Suarez told reporters on July 12. “And the people of Cuba are starving. They’re in need of medicine. They’re in need of international help. And frankly, unless the Cuban military or the Cuban police turns on the Cuban government, the Cuban people will continue to be repressed without any hope of freedom in the future.”
Miami is home to a large community of Cuban exiles who fled their homeland after Fidel Castro seized power in the 1959 revolution.
Another Florida political figure, Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, in a letter to President Joe Biden, praised the demonstrations, characterizing the events as “historic, peaceful, and organic protests that arose throughout Havana and other provinces in Cuba.” Senator Rubio urged the president to take a number of steps to help the Cuban people, including identifying those involved in “acts of violent repression inside Cuba” and banning them from entering the United States.
Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, called for the “violence and repression” against the Cuban people to end.
“The world’s eyes are on Cuba tonight and the dictatorship must understand we will not tolerate the use of brute force to silence the aspirations of the Cuban people,” he said in a statement issued late July 11.