South Florida’s Cuban exiles mark one year since antigovernmental protests in Cuba

MIAMI – July 11 marks one year since the historic antigovernmental protests in Cuba and several events across South Florida are marking the anniversary with support for the Cuban people.

“Today what we’re doing by raising that flag, we are sending a message that the fight isn’t over, yet,” said Manolo Reyes, City of Miami Commissioner.

The City of Miami sent a strong message to those still in Cuba on Monday, by raising the Cuban flag outside of city hall.

“Today we are going to raise the Cuban flag in memory of the July 11th protests from last year where Cubans spontaneously rose up against their government,” said Francis Suarez, Mayor of Miami.

Those protests erupted on the communist island one year ago and were heard all over the world. Including by many here in South Florida who still have family on the island.

CORRECTS TO PRO-GOVERNMENT SUPPORTERS - Government supporters shout slogans as anti-government protesters march 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. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The message from city leaders on Monday was to continue that fight, even as more than 700 protestors still remain behind bars in Cuban jails.

“When that flag goes up, it’s to let the Cuban people inside of Cuba know that we stand by them, they’re not alone, to keep up the fight, because soon Cuba will be free,” said Joe Carrollo, City of Miami Commissioner, District 3.

The mayor of Miami is taking a more critical tone, calling on the U.S. government to do more to help those who continue to suffer under the island’s communist regime.

“And we’re frankly calling upon not only Cubans on the island to continue their heroic struggle, but frankly, the president of the united states in this country who has the means and the power and the ability to have a coherent policy to help those suffering in counties like Cuba and Nicaragua and Venezuela,” said Suarez.

A fight for freedom that Miami city leaders vow will never be forgotten.

“The fight is still on, and the fight is going to be on until Cuba, it is free,” said Reyes.

In Doral, Senator Marco Rubio was among the republican leaders who spoke on Monday.

“Children, entire families were sentenced to decades in prison and beatings and horrifying treatment. We’re deeply disappointed that in the year that has passed this administration has done absolutely nothing,” said Rubio.

South Florida commemorates the one-year anniversary of the July 11 Cuba protests

The Biden Administration announced Visa restrictions on 28 Cuban officials the U.S. government says implicated the repression of the historic July 11 protests.

People like Donaida Perez and her husband Loreto Hernandez Garcia are accused of public disorder among other charges. Paseiro was sentenced to eight years while Garcia was sentenced to seven.

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, released a statement marking the anniversary:

“One year after the July 11, 2021 protests in Cuba, the United States recognizes the determination and courage of the Cuban people as they continue to fight for respect for human rights and persevere through repression during a historic year. We celebrate the Cuban people and commend their indomitable determination in the face of oppression.”

“Our two peoples share strong bonds of family and friendship, as well as a fervent desire for freedom, prosperity, and a bright future for our children. Through those bonds and desires, we will continue to stand with the Cuban people to support their struggle for democracy, including by promoting accountability for Cuban regime officials for human rights abuses, condemning restrictions on fundamental freedoms and labor rights, calling for the unconditional release of political prisoners, and urging our partners to do the same.”

“To the Cuban people: Americans watched with admiration on July 11, 2021 as tens of thousands of you took to the streets to raise your voices for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and a better life. And we stand with you as the Cuban regime, instead of welcoming the voices of the people, has condemned hundreds of protestors to decades-long prison sentences. It is unacceptable that today, one year after these demonstrations, over 700 protesters remain behind bars. The United States will always remain with the Cuban people in your desire to build a better future.”

About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

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.