15N protests: Miami’s Little Havana demonstration of Cuban solidarity includes ‘Patria Y Vida’ stage

Activists in Havana canceled plans after reporting threats and an increased police presence.

MIAMI – James Martin was among the Cuban American protesters on Monday in Miami’s Little Havana. He held a Cuban flag and shouted, “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” His frustration has been growing.

Martin communicates with his family in Cuba regularly and he said the situation on the island is getting worst. The food and medicine shortages continue and they feel powerless, he said.

“There is no freedom. You can’t say anything. You can’t run for office,” Martin said.

Martin and others in the crowd on Eighth Street wore a white T-shirt just as critics of the Cuban government had planned to do on Monday to demonstrate peacefully on the island. Activists in Havana canceled plans after reporting threats and an increased police presence.

Related story: Activists report Cuban law enforcement intimidates, threatens, censors

“It has even prohibited people from having with them a white flower or dressing in white like I am today in solidarity,” said Ramón Saúl Sánchez, a Cuban exile who has denied accusations that he was involved in violent attacks decades ago to help topple Fidel Castro.

Meanwhile, in Miami, officers kept demonstrators on the sidewalk along Eighth Street outside of Versailles Restaurant. There was a small stage in the parking lot nearby. “Patria Y Vida” was the song of the night.

Sánchez and Maritza Manresa, a Movimiento Democracia activist who was protesting in Little Havana, said young Cubans with cell phones are the pioneers of the modern movement to end the communist regime.

“Now with social media and internet access, they are seeing how the rest of the world works,” Manresa said, adding Cuban Americans were standing in solidarity with them as they faced repression.

Yunior Garcia, the Cuban leader of Archipiélago, a private Facebook group with more than 37,000 members, reported men locked him inside his home in Havana. Garcia said they blocked his access to the internet on Monday. Men used Cuban flags to block his windows and parked a bus to block his street.

More about Cuba in Spanish

About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

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.