Miami shows solidarity with Cuban protesters in streets and by sea

Locally, people have taken to the streets and tried to deliver supplies by boat as Cubans demonstrate for democracy in the island nation.

MIAMI – Carlos Valderrama joined a group of demonstrators Monday in Miami’s Little Havana to stand against the Cuban government’s aggressive repression of unarmed protesters.

Valderrama said his mother lives in Cuba. She was able to call him Sunday as the situation in the streets started to deteriorate and on Monday.

“I told her she needs to be careful. Those guys are shooting ... those guys are attacking the people,” Valderrama said about Cubans’ reports of police-involved shootings, beatings, and arbitrary arrests.

Miami police officers were on Eighth Street as Valderrama and other demonstrators met Monday outside Cuban restaurants Versailles and La Carreta, between Southwest 36th Court and Southwest 35th Avenue. The demonstrations continued until about 1 a.m. Tuesday.

“Our community understands first-hand just how evil the Castro regime is, that’s why we stand with the people of Cuba in their struggle for freedom,” U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar wrote on Twitter.

There were thousands there Sunday and hundreds there late Monday.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Cuban American, was also among the demonstrators. He said Cubans in Miami were pleading with President Joe Biden to intervene.

“The Cuban regime’s military police are shooting at unarmed Cuban protestors fighting for freedom,” Suarez wrote.

Drivers lined up to honk in solidarity. Groups climbed up the back of pickup trucks to join in on the demonstration. There were U.S. and Cuban flags.

“COVID-19 is out of their hands right now. They don’t have medicine. They don’t have hospitals. they don’t have beds,” Johan Lazo said about relatives’ complaints.

Boaters prepare

At the Pelican Harbor Marina near Miami’s North Bay Village, Henry Diaz was collecting supplies in preparation for a demonstration involving boaters in the Straits of Florida.

Many of the demonstrators said they felt powerless watching videos and reports on social media coming from Cuba. They want Cubans who are struggling to know they are not alone.

“If we get enough boats and we get a permit, we could go into Cuba and help them out. Take medicine, take supplies ... But without the help of the U.S. government it will difficult,” said Darian Suarez, a Cuban American from Miami-Dade County. "

Other Cuban Americans had to explain to Suarez that although Cuba is so close to South Florida, it’s not that simple. Both Suarez and Diaz have relatives in Cuba who report the crisis is worsening.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Eric C. Jones released a statement saying local and federal authorities are monitoring any “unpermitted vessel departures from Florida to Cuba.”

Diaz said they didn’t have to worry about that as far as he and his group were concerned.

“We are not going to trespass waters but we are going to be there to support,” Diaz said.

Related stories

Monday afternoon report

Sunday night report

As word of what was happening in Cuba spread, South Florida’s Cuban exile community came together on Southwest 8th Street in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, in front of Versailles Restaurant, to show their support for those on the island.

Coverage on July 11

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

About the Authors:

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.

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.