Biden calls ‘remarkable’ protests a ‘call for freedom’ – World News – .

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Biden calls ‘remarkable’ protests a ‘call for freedom’ – World News – .


President Joe Biden on Monday called the protests in Cuba “remarkable” and “a call for freedom,” praising the thousands of Cubans who took to the streets to protest food shortages and high prices amid the crisis. coronavirus crisis – one of the biggest anti-government protests on the island in recent years. Memory.

“The Cuban people demand their release from an authoritarian regime. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this protest in a long time, though, frankly, ever, ”Biden said in a brief exchange with reporters at the start of a meeting with mayors and city officials. law enforcement to discuss guns. violence in the USA

The comments marked a noticeable change in tone from former Biden boss Barack Obama, who, as president, has sought to ease decades of tensions between Washington and Havana while relaxing economic sanctions imposed. by the United States. It’s an effort that was canceled by Republican President Donald Trump, who partially rolled back Obama’s reconciliation, limiting American travel to the island, banning American financial transactions with dozens of companies, and more.

“We stand by the Cuban people and their clear call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by the authoritarian regime in Cuba,” he said. Biden said in a previous statement Monday. . “The Cuban people courageously claim fundamental and universal rights. “

Julie Chung, acting deputy secretary of the department’s Western Hemisphere Affairs Office, suggested on Sunday that the protests were motivated by the Cuban people exercising “their right to peaceful assembly to express concern over the increase in cases. deaths from COVID and drug shortages. We commend the many efforts of the Cuban people in mobilizing donations to help their neighbors.

But White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday sought to ensure that the protests were motivated by much broader frustration, calling the protests “spontaneous expressions of people exhausted by economic mismanagement and the repression of the Cuban government ”.

Psaki added that the United States remained ready to help Cuba in its COVID-19 vaccination effort, but the Cuban government’s decision not to participate in COVAX – a global initiative to distribute vaccines to the poorest countries – complicated the effort.

“We certainly recognize and understand that access to vaccines is one of the issues that preoccupies a number of people on the streets, but we need to determine what the mechanism would be to work with the Cuban people to provide them with vaccines,” , said Psaki.

The scene of protesters on Havana’s Malecon promenade and elsewhere on the island was an unusual scene as the Communist leadership has historically shown little tolerance for criticism. The police were initially left behind as the demonstrators chanted “Freedom”, “Enough” and “Unite”. A motorcyclist pulled out an American flag, but it was ripped off by others.

About 2.5 hours after the start of the march, some protesters tore up cobblestones and threw them at the police, at which point the officers started arresting people and the protesters dispersed. AP journalists counted at least 20 people who were taken away in police cars or by individuals in plain clothes.

Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Lambasted Biden for taking an entire day to greet protesters, noting on Twitter that Biden’s statement did not describe the Cuban government as “socialist and communist.”

“The protests in #Cuba started over 24 hours ago and you forgot something,” Rubio said.



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