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FHP troopers clear SOS Cuba protests on Palmetto Expressway, Okeechobee Road

Cuban Americans to continue demonstrations in Miami-Dade

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Despite new state laws to prohibit demonstrations blocking traffic, SOS Cuba protesters were inspired to follow the actions of the Black Lives Matter movement in Miami-Dade County.

Cuban American protesters said 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.

“They are in violation of the law but you have to have patience. You can’t come out here and arrest everybody,” Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez said late Tuesday.

#SOSCuba rally continues on Palmetto Expressway

For hours, troopers kept an eye on large crowds on the Palmetto Expressway at Coral Way and on Okeechobee Road near Hialeah. Officers from Miami, Miami-Dade, and other departments also dealt with safety concerns during the demonstrations.

“We need this regime to be gone. People are dying. Kids are out in the street protesting. They are getting beaten by the Cuban regime,” said Hansel Hernandez, a Miami-Dade protester on Okeechobee Road, adding drivers were patient and joined the protest.

Cuban American protesters used signs and 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.

In solidarity with Cubans, protesters stop Palmetto Expressway traffic

Activists said the government’s inability to deal with the pandemic’s public health and economic crises has turned deadly. Leticia Ramos Herrería, an activist in Cuba’s city of Cárdenas, has been dealing with officials’ repressive response to criticism for years.

Despite her years of experience, she said she was afraid. She felt the response to the SOS Cuba protests was bad enough that she decided to risk arrest to provide an update on the situation to Local 10 News. Cuban officials reported there was one death related to the protests.

“The situation is very tense in this city. People haven’t stopped taking to the streets,” Ramos Herrería said in Spanish Tuesday, adding there have been violent raids and arbitrary arrests.

Demonstrators walk on both lanes of 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.)

In Miami, Danet Collada, a protester outside of Versailles in Little Havana, said she felt anguish as she waited for updates from her family in Cuba. Videos show shootings and beatings.

“There is no communication whatsoever. We don’t know what’s going on,” Collada said. “We are just hoping and praying that their strong, valiant, Cuban heart has kept them alive.”

Cubans’ rare acts of desperation made headlines worldwide. Cuban Americans in South Florida said it’s not enough. They want the U.S. and the international community to respond with decisive actions.

SKY 10 shows #SOSCuba protesters takeover Palmetto for hours

“We are not asking for more food or more medicine or more any other help. The only help we need is to take down the communists in Cuba. That’s the intervention we need,” said Marly Dalmoral, a Miami-Dade protester in Tamiami Park where hundreds attended a rally to mark the anniversary of a 1994 massacre.

Protesters also met outside of the U.S. Southern Command headquarters Tuesday night in Doral. There were similar road-block protests on highways in Tampa and Jacksonville. Cuban Americans are planning to continue demonstrations Wednesday.

Demonstrators sit on the median separating the north and southbound 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.)

Sanchez said FHP is ready to keep people safe.

“Through this process, people can call and complain to the Florida Highway Patrol, we work through it,” Sanchez said. “We are working; there is dialogue.”

Related stories

Coverage on July 12

Cuban exiles rally at Versailles Restaurant in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood in support of protesters in Cuba, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Miami. Sunday's protests in Cuba marked some of the biggest displays of antigovernment sentiment in the tightly controlled country in years. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Coverage on July 11

People protest in front of the Capitol in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, July 11, 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators went out to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs, amid the new coronavirus crisis. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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


About the Authors:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.

Roy Ramos joined the Local 10 News team in 2018. Roy is a South Florida native who grew up in Florida City. He attended Christopher Columbus High School, Homestead Senior High School and graduated from St. Thomas University.