For 3rd night, Little Havana drivers honk to join ‘SOS Cuba’ protest outside Versailles

MIAMI – Drivers on Eighth Street honked to feel part of the SOS Cuba demonstration going on for the third night Tuesday outside of Versailles in Miami’s Little Havana.

Thirteen-year-old Lola Rodriguez was there with her grandparents. Lola has never been to Cuba, but she has heard the stories about her grandparents having to abandon their homes as children.

Lola has also learned about the pain the late Fidel Castro has caused to Cubans on the communist island and to Cuban American families in Miami-Dade County. She said the demonstrations give her hope.

“I feel proud to be Cuban,” Lola said, adding she has “faith” that she will be able to visit a “free Cuba” one day.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has also participated in the demonstrations and has asked President Joe Biden to listen to the pleas for help. The desperation prompted the rare uprising in Havana and other cities Sunday.

Videos on social media show Cuban police officers beating, arresting, and shooting at protesters. The videos also show mobs chanting for “Freedom” despite the one-party system’s aggressive repression of dissent.

After the protests, Cuban relatives told Miami-Dade residents there were internet connectivity issues and power outages. Activists said these are efforts to silence protesters’ pleas. Gov. Ron DeSantis said companies in Florida should be able to help with internet connectivity.

In Miami’s Little Havana, police officers kept the traffic flowing in both directions. Many of them were Cuban Americans themselves and said they felt like a part of the movement to support Cuban protesters who are paying a heavy price.

Danet Collada, a Miami-Dade resident, said she felt anguish, as she waited for updates from her family in Cuba.

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

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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. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Coverage on July 11

SOS Cuba protesters meet outside Versailles Sunday in Miami's Little Havana. (WPLG)

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

About the Authors:

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

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.