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Demonstrators in Cuba took to the streets over the weekend to protest the government and demand freedom.
The demonstrations broke out in Caimanera, a small fishing village near the U.S. military base at Guantanamo, and videos from the protests posted to social media showed demonstrators clashing with men in military uniforms and civilian clothing, according to a report from Reuters.
Protesters could be heard shouting anti-government chants and crying for “freedom” in the first known demonstrations of the year in the communist country.
Tensions there have been high in recent weeks as the country deals with a fuel shortage that has hampered public transportation, power generation and the food supply.
ANTI-COMMUNIST PROTESTS TAKE CENTER STAGE DURING WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC BETWEEN US AND CUBA
Demonstrators take part in the commemoration of May Day (Labor Day) to mark the international day of workers in Havana May 5, 2023. (Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images)
The protests were downplayed by state-run radio journalist Mabel Pozo, who took to social media to say “various citizens, some in a state of drunkenness, yelled statements against the Cuban social process and regarding their dissatisfactions.”
Pozo also said “security forces and other people contributed to dissuade people concentrated on the street, who responded and returned to their homes.”
CubaDebate, a state-run digital media outlet, also downplayed the demonstrations, arguing that people there were more “curious than participants” and classifying the protests as a “show” that was falsely hyped by anti-government activists.
Demonstrators participate in the commemoration of May Day to mark the international day of workers in Havana May 5, 2023. (Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images)
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“The Cuban dictatorship and its propaganda apparatus will always downplay peaceful protests against their tyrannical mandate because it doesn’t fit their narrative,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in response to the protests when reached by Fox News Digital.
Rubio, a fierce advocate for freedom in Cuba, argued “the Cuban people are sick and tired of the Communist Party, which denies basic liberties and fails to provide for the basic needs of Cubans across the island.
“The U.S. should continue to provide the Cuban people access to outside information that dispels the regime’s lies”.
Demonstrators carry posters with images of late Cuban President Fidel Castro and former Cuban President Raul Castro. (Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images)
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The most recent protests come almost two years after major anti-government demonstrations rocked the country, and some of those who participated are still being held in jail despite government laws that are supposed to protect the right to protest.
The U.S. embassy in Havana condemned the government’s handling of the demonstrations.
“Last night, Cuban security forces responded violently to peaceful protests in the town of Caimanera, beating citizens for demanding human rights,” the embassy said on Twitter. “Cuba also shut down its internet for fear of freedom of expression. The Cuban repression of the rights of its citizens is cruel and useless; freedom always wins.”
Michael Lee is a writer at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee