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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Coverage on July 12
Coverage on July 11
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