WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden and other U.S. political figures are voicing their support for the protests in Cuba.
On Sunday, Cubans took to the streets to protest food and medicine shortages, high prices, and a lack of freedom in the island country, which has been led by Communist leaders for decades.
The demonstration was one of the biggest anti-government rallies that the country has seen, at least in recent years. Many young people participated and chanted “Freedom,” “Enough,” and “United” as they marched in places like Havana’s Malecon promenade, The Associated Press reports.
CNN reports that multiple protesters were arrested by law enforcement that used tear gas to break up the rallies.
In a statement released Monday morning, Biden said his administration supports the protesters.
“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba's authoritarian regime,” wrote Biden.
The president said the Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights.
“Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected,” he wrote. “The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.”
In parts of Florida, the state that boasts the largest population of Cuban Americans, people also turned out to show their support for the people of Cuba.
Florida’s governor’s office is also showing its support for the protesters. Lieutenant Gov. Jeanette Núñez said Monday that they’re monitoring the demonstrations on the island.
“We remain steadfast in our support on the side of freedom and democracy,” said Núñez. “And as the governor stated yesterday, Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against a tyrannical regime that has plagued them for so many decades. The next several days will be pivotal for the freedom-seeking people of Cuba and their decades-long quest for freedom.”
During a press conference on the Surfside condo collapse, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava took the opportunity to reiterate her office’s “strong support” of the peaceful protests unfolding across Cuba.
“We stand united with the Cuban people on the island and all across our own community at this historic moment in the struggle for freedom, dignity, and basic human rights,” the mayor said. “We stand with them, and we pray for their courageous actions to begin to bring about real change and move us closer to a vision of a free Cuba.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence also spoke out in support.
"America stands with the oppressed Cuban people assembling for their birthright of #Libertad and America stands for a free and democratic Cuba! Que Viva Cuba Libre!" tweeted Pence