Cuban government uses special units to intimidate protestors on the island

Video recorded by a Cuban woman shows the violent encounter with the government's special units meant to intimidate protestors.

MIAMI – Graphic video out of Cuba recounts violent encounter with special units the Cuban government uses called “Boinas Negras,” to intimidate protestors on the communist island.

It is exactly what Leticia Ramos Herrería, an outspoken member of the Ladies in White, an organization that engages in peaceful protests for freedom in Cuba, described hearing about.

A woman shouts pro-government slogans as anti-government protesters march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, July 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

She said the armed black-clad men are attacking unarmed Cubans.

In a video on social media, a woman named Marbelis Vazquez, recorded the moments when these men entered her home. She said they shot her husband and took him away in a wheelbarrow, leaving a puddle of blood inside her home, with her children present.

According to another Facebook post, she later said her husband is alive.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, responded to Sunday’s protests, saying they were limited in scale and they were orchestrated by the United States. Rodriguez also sent the United States a warning.

“I’m warning the American government that its irresponsible conduct could have grave consequences, that may damage the interest of both countries,” said Rodriguez.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration addressed how they are approaching Cuba policy, given the protests.

“Certainly the events, the protests, the reaction, the continued oppression of the Cuban people, weighs in on our decision making process,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Meanwhile in South Florida, Cuban Americans continue their protests in solidarity with Cubans on the island, near Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana.

They took to the Palmetto Expressway and parts of Okeechobee Road Tuesday night, saying they want to make sure that the message that Cubans on the communist island have risked their lives fighting for freedom is heard clearly in the White House and around the world.

Many of them using signs and wearing T-shirts to display the motto of the protests — “Patria Y Vida,” or “Homeland and Life.” The phrase antagonizes Fidel Castro’s rallying cry of “Socialism or Death” and Che Guevara’s “Homeland or Death” 1960s speech.

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.)

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Veronica Crespo writes for and also oversees the Español section of the website. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism and Spanish.