May 20, 2022

Protesters gather outside the Versailles restaurant to support the people of Cuba who took to the streets to protest in Miami, Florida on July 11, 2021.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Biden government expressed concern on Monday after widespread anti-government protests in Cuba were forcibly dispersed on orders from Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermudez.

Sunday’s protests, the largest the communist island has seen since the 1990s, take place amid widespread frustration over a battered economy and severe food shortages. The coronavirus pandemic is also pushing the country’s health system to its limits.

“The Cuban people demand their freedom from an authoritarian regime. I think we haven’t seen anything like these protests in a long time, “President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday.

“The US stands firmly by the side of the Cuban people when they assert their universal rights. And we urge the Cuban government to refrain from violence in its attempt to silence the voices of the Cuban people, ”added the President.

In a statement on Monday, Biden called on the Cuban regime to “listen to its people and serve their needs at this crucial moment.”

Police cars are overturned on the street as part of a demonstration against Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on July 11, 2021.

Yamil location | AFP | Getty Images

In a national address on Sunday, President Díaz-Canel Bermudez said his regime was “ready to do anything” to quell the protests, according to a Washington Post report. “We will fight in the streets,” he said, adding that the United States was partly responsible for the widespread dissatisfaction in Cuba.

On Monday, he appeared with members of his government, blaming US trade sanctions for stifling Cuba’s growth.

Biden’s top diplomat clapped back during a briefing at the State Department, saying the Cuban people are “deeply tired of the repression, which has been going on for far too long”.

“Tired of the mismanagement of the Cuban economy, tired of the lack of adequate food and of course an adequate response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” added Foreign Minister Antony Blinken.

“This is what we hear and see in Cuba and that is a reflection of the Cuban people, not the United States or any other outside actor,” he said.

Over the weekend, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan condemned any threat of violence against peaceful protesters on Twitter: “The US supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba and would strongly condemn any violence or attack on peaceful protesters who exercise their universal rights. “

Julie Chung, Assistant Secretary of the Western Hemisphere Office of the State Department, tweeted, “We are deeply concerned about ‘calls to fight’ in #Cuba. We stand by the right of the Cuban people to peaceful assembly and all violence. “

Cuban dissatisfaction sparked protests in Miami, Spain and Mexico.

The Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called on the Biden administration to end the US economic embargo on Cuba.

“The truth is that if you want to help Cuba, the first thing you should do is lift the blockade on Cuba, as the majority of countries in the world are demanding,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference.

“That would be a truly humanitarian gesture,” he added. “No country in the world should be fenced off or blocked.”

CNBC policy

Read more about CNBC’s political coverage: