Miami demonstrators block highway to support Cuban protests
Cuban exiles block the Palmetto Expressway at Coral Way in support of protesters in Cuba. Image via AP.

Cuba protest Miami Palmetto Expressway
The protests could run afoul of the new anti-riot law.

Demonstrators expressing solidarity with the thousands of Cubans who waged a rare weekend of protests around their island nation shut down a stretch of a major South Florida expressway Tuesday.

The large group gathered at a busy Miami intersection chanting support for the Cubans, who had taken to the streets of several communities around the communist nation Sunday to air grievances about poor economic conditions, among other complaints.

South Florida is home to the largest U.S. population of Cuban Americans.

News helicopter footage from broadcaster WTVJ showed demonstrators marching to Miami’s Palmetto Expressway, where several of them sat down in the roadway. Traffic was eventually blocked in both directions, and police weren’t immediately moving demonstrators.

Elsewhere in Miami, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis held a round table with elected officials, including members of Congress. The gathering at Miami’s American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora was closed to reporters, but the Governor asserted at a news conference later that protests in Cuba were more than just about shortages of vaccines, food and other basic items.

“They are revolting against a corrupt communist dictatorship that has ruled that island with an iron fist for over 60 years, that is responsible for death and destruction, not just on the island of Cuba but really throughout the Western Hemisphere,” DeSantis said.

He said the Cuban demonstrators desire a “a fresh start” and “a free society.”

Nationwide protests last year under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement drew attention to racial injustice in the U.S. after the killings of Black people by police. Earlier this year, DeSantis signed into Florida law a measure that enhances penalties against protestors who turn violent and brings criminal penalties against those who organize protests that turn violent. DeSantis dismissed similarities between Black Lives Matter and Tuesday’s demonstrators.

“These are people that are rebelling against a communist dictatorship,” the Governor said. He said the demonstrations in Miami were “fundamentally different than what we saw last summer.”

DeSantis, who is said to be considering a run for the White House in 2024, declined to directly respond to how Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration should address the Cuba developments. But he said federal officials should not be satisfied with small Cuban government accommodations designed to quell demonstrations. He also called on Cuba to restore internet service to its populace so they could share their grievances with the world.

Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar, whose parents were Cuban exiles, said the community needs to speak with one voice in persuading the Biden administration to stand tough against the Cuban government.

“We cannot negotiate with the regime at this hour,” Salazar said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard in Miami has been monitoring any activity aimed at increasing “unsafe and illegal” crossings between Florida and Cuba in response to rare street protests on the island.

Rear Adm. Eric C. Jones issued a warning statement Monday night as groups of Cuban immigrants said they planned to travel in boats filled with supplies to Cuba to show support for the Cuban protesters.

In Miami, Cuban social media personalities posted Monday that they would make the 10-hour boat ride to Cuba to show support after rare street protests broke out over the weekend, the Miami Herald reported. The influencers said they would bring aid — and guns — and urged people in Miami to offer up their boats.

One group gathered Monday night at Pelican Harbor Marina near Miami’s North Bay Village, and people brought cases of bottled water, flashlights and boxes of canned pasta, the newspaper reported.

“Water, food, medicine, whatever we can take to Cuba. Whatever we can take to help is good,” organizer Dennis Suayero told WSVN.

The group didn’t get very far on a rainy Monday night.

A message posted on organizer Santiago Rivera’s Instagram account early Tuesday said the Coast Guard stopped his group from crossing the Florida Straits because of “problems with firearms.”

Over the weekend, thousands of Cuban Americans gathered in Miami’s Little Havana district, expressing support for the Cubans who joined street marches against high prices and food shortages on the island. Such unsanctioned protests are extremely rare, and Cuban police were out in force on Monday to control them.

The last such demonstrations in Havana took place in 1994. President Miguel Díaz-Canel accusing Cuban Americans of using social media to egg them on.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Cuban American, tweeted that he has never “felt such raw emotion from the people of Miami desperate for intervention by the government and by themselves on behalf of Cuba.”

Miami wasn’t the only Florida city where demonstrators gathered in support of the Cuban protests. For the second day, Cuban-Americans in Tampa gathered Tuesday at an intersection, blocking traffic and waving Cuban flags. Television images showed a few dozen protesters in a city that traces its Cuban heritage back several generations.

___

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


15 comments

  • Ed

    July 13, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    Those of us that live in South Florida jokingly refer to the Palmetto as the Wallmetto. Looks like it truly earned its nickname today.

  • Joe

    July 13, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    Seriously? I know you at Florida Politics hates HB1, but these protesters are not threatening other Americans, they are not bitching about law enforcement and they are protesting your Communist friends in Havana. Screw you!

  • Tom Palmer

    July 13, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    The law applies to all protests.

  • Dr. larry myers

    July 13, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    iN THE usa THE CUBAN S CRY IS GATHERING STEAM —————–PLAYWRIGHTS SANCTIUARY IN SAN FRANCISCO IS PRESENTING SCENES FROM “SANTERIA STREET tHEATER”
    IN A FOUND THEATER SPACE at David Lamble Backyard Playhouse……………… SQUATTING, APPEALING TO CAFES, CHURCHES, COLLEGES TO GET THE TRUTH OUT. …………………..WE ARE IN A NEW POST DARK AGES WITH COVID SOMEWHAT SUBSIDING/
    THE CHURCH NEEDS TO GET REAL!

    DR. MYERS WORKED WITH Traditional Catholics in Surfside Miami at the condo collapse site but if they don’t want to lose members the Church must get real…………. Myers dedicates his “Towers Fall” about his volunteerism————–boots on ground/.in the trenches———– at Surfside to victims, the lost, the missing. the families. compassionate volunteers……………His Cuba play is for his friend Cuban dramatist Maria Irene Fornes ——— who shared stages at Theater for the New City with many Hispanic and Jewish groups .with Dr. Myers. The late Edward Albee endorsed Myers Playwrights SANCTUARY….MYERS WAS MENTORED BY SOMETIMES FLORIDIAN/CATHOLIC CONERT TENNNESSEE WILLIAMS..

  • Tom

    July 13, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    There was no looting, no violence and it was peaceful. This was peaceful support not a riot.
    Really pathetic attempt to do so.

    • Phil Morton

      July 14, 2021 at 5:02 am

      HB 1 Crimes that may occur and are explicitly listed in the new legislation are: “Willfully obstructing the free, convenient, and normal use of a public street, highway, or road by impeding, hindering, stifling, retarding, or restraining traffic or passage by standing on or remaining in the street, highway, or road, endangering the safe movement of vehicles or pedestrians.”

      • Tom

        July 14, 2021 at 8:10 am

        Morton you are a hater, tom a ton -soros robot. Dems have become bot Manchurians. Anyone with a half brain knows that was a peaceful protest, non looting , non riot! Go review Nikki Frauds dishonest financials.

        • Ocean Joe

          July 14, 2021 at 10:54 am

          So we can all agree that 1) the law our legislators and governor rammed through forbids even this peaceful, well meaning demonstration because it blocks the roadway; and 2) the folks who figured it would be applied unequally were right; and 3) thankfully nobody tried to run a car through because this law contains a civil immunity provision so long as the driver pleads self defense…kind of like “stand your ground” on wheels.
          Good luck to the people of Cuba in your fight for freedom, and when you have it don’t be as eager as some here to simply give it away.

  • Tom

    July 13, 2021 at 11:37 pm

    Palmer you are fake news.
    It was opposing declared riots, not peaceful protests. Fake news media trying to create issue.There was no rioting, no looting and no violence , period.

  • Tom

    July 14, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    SeAweed Joe, no we don’t Agree.
    America’s Governor is right.
    No looting, no violence, no arrests, no danger and peaceful protest.

  • READ THE BILL!

    July 14, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    YOUR EXACT WORDS IN THE BILL

    316.2045 Obstruction of public streets, highways, and roads.—
    (1)(a) A It is unlawful for any person may not or persons
    willfully to obstruct the free, convenient, and normal use of a
    any public street, highway, or road by:
    Impeding, hindering, stifling, retarding, or
    restraining traffic or passage thereon;, by
    Standing on or remaining in the street, highway, or
    road; or approaching motor vehicles thereon, or by
    Endangering the safe movement of vehicles or
    pedestrians traveling thereon.
    A ; and any person or persons who violates paragraph
    (a) violate the provisions of this subsection, upon conviction,
    shall be cited for a pedestrian violation, punishable as
    provided in chapter 318.

  • Tom

    July 14, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    Law enforcement always makes judgements on application. This isn’t a court of law. Stop smelling seaweed. No crime, no looting, no injuries, no violence and just peaceful protests.
    Unlike what you and your party support!
    America’s Governor is the best!

  • GD

    July 14, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    The law applies to thee but not to me!
    A typical fascist response how these are good protesters are fine and blacks are bad protesters so need to be punished.
    How much more blatant racism can you get by DeSantis, you?
    Do you not see it?
    If you don’t, maybe it’s you that is the racist, fascist too.

    • Tom

      July 14, 2021 at 8:39 pm

      Thank God for this Governor and his family.
      Florida is in great hands.

  • GD

    July 14, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    This lack of action will be exhibit A in the trail dismantling this racist, fascist Cuban Government type law.
    Thank you DeSantis for effectively killing your own law.

Comments are closed.


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