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Miami-Dade ‘SOS Cuba’ protesters on Palmetto Expressway: US needs to end communism

More #SOSCuba protesters hike up ramp to Palmetto Expressway
More #SOSCuba protesters hike up ramp to Palmetto Expressway

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A small group of protesters asking President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis to help protect Cuban protesters marched to block traffic on the Palmetto Expressway on a rainy Tuesday in Miami-Dade County.

One of their chants in Spanish: “Estados Unidos, acaba el comunismo!” It’s a rhymed request for the Biden administration to put an end to communism.

Demonstrators confront police as they try to get onto the Palmetto Expressway, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Miami. Demonstrators are protesting in solidarity with the thousands of Cubans who waged a rare weekend of protests around their island nation against the communist regime. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

They lined up for hours under the rain on the southbound and northbound lanes of the expressway. Officers and Florida Highway Patrol troopers blocked access from Coral Way to Flagler Street.

Some of the protesters who have relatives on the island said they fear the Cuban government’s violent crackdown on dissent. Cubans report having internet connectivity problems and power outages since the Sunday protest.

Related story: Drivers on Okeechobee Road show solidarity with SOS Cuba protesters disrupting traffic

SKY 10 shows #SOSCuba protesters takeover Palmetto for hours
SKY 10 shows #SOSCuba protesters takeover Palmetto for hours

Miami-Dade Police Department officers and Florida Highway Patrol troopers asked drivers to avoid the expressway and use the Florida Turnpike instead. They were also negotiating with the protesters, reminding them that blocking roads is illegal in Florida.

Some of the protesters held umbrellas, and white, red, and blue Cuban and U.S. flags. Some used signs and T-shirts to display the “Patria Y Vida,” or “Homeland and Life,” motto of the protests across Cuba Sunday.

The phrase is meant to antagonize the late Fidel Castro’s rallying cry of “Socialism or Death” and the late Che Guevara’s “Homeland or Death” speech at the United Nations in the 1960s.

'Patria Y Vida' protesters in Miami-Dade: 'The US will shutdown communism'
'Patria Y Vida' protesters in Miami-Dade: 'The US will shutdown communism'

The expressway’s southbound lanes reopened briefly at first and shut down again. Officers kept a group of protesters away from the expressway near a gas station where customers were trapped in.

Another group of protesters crossed through the yellow crime scene tape blocking access to the ramp and joined the demonstration.

A family cheers while on the Palmetto Expressway, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Miami. The demonstrators, many of them Cuban exiles, expressed support for Cubans, who had taken to the streets of several communities around the communist nation on Sunday to air grievances over poor economic conditions, among other complaints. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

For some, it was a family activity with parents and grandparents. Some took toddlers to the protest. There were groups of teenagers. Some played music and used pots and pans to make noise. They were working to make sure the US and allies hear Cubans’ cries for help.

In solidarity with Cubans, protesters stop Palmetto Expressway traffic
In solidarity with Cubans, protesters stop Palmetto Expressway traffic

Many are in communication with relatives and friends who are learning about the victims of aggressive police tactics in Havana and other cities. Activists reported violent raids and arbitrary arrests continued Tuesday.

The rare act of desperation made headlines worldwide, but Cuban Americans in South Florida want to make sure people don’t just forget. There were demonstrations in Miami-Dade County Sunday night, Monday and there were plans to continue through the week.

Demonstrators sit on the median separating the north and south bound lanes of the Palmetto Expressway, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Miami. The demonstrators voiced support for Cubans, who had taken to the streets of several communities around the communist nation on Sunday to air grievances over poor economic conditions, among other complaints. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Amid a public health and economic crisis, shortages of medications and food, Cuban protesters on the island have taken an unprecedented step. They are confronting an authoritarian regime with a history of abusing the rights of their political opponents to maintain a single-party system.

Demonstrators sit on the median separating the north and south bound lanes of the Palmetto Expressway, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Miami. The demonstrators voiced support for Cubans, who had taken to the streets of several communities around the communist nation on Sunday to air grievances over poor economic conditions, among other complaints. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

The Miami-Dade Police Department released a statement asking protesters to avoid the illegal practice of blocking roadways. FHP evacuated drivers.

More reports from the Palmetto

Cuban-American demonstrators take over Miami-Dade highway
Cuban-American demonstrators take over Miami-Dade highway
More Cuban-American protesters arrive at Palmetto Expressway
More Cuban-American protesters arrive at Palmetto Expressway

Related stories

Coverage on July 12

Coverage on July 11

For more about the situation in Cuba, visit the Local 10 News’ “en español” page.

For complete coverage of the uprising in Cuba, click here.

To read coverage in Spanish, visit Local10.com/espanol.

To see Local 10′s live traffic map, click here.

This is a developing news story. Check back and watch Local 10 for updates.

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About the Authors:

Bridgette Matter joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in July 2021. Before moving to South Florida, she began her career in South Bend, Indiana and spent six years in Jacksonville as a reporter and weekend anchor.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.