Demonstrators expressing solidarity with the thousands of Cubans who waged a rare weekend of protests around their island nation shut down a stretch of a major expressway on Tuesday.
The large group of protesters gathered at a busy Miami intersection in support of the Cubans, who had taken to the streets of several communities around the communist nation on Sunday to air grievances over poor economic conditions, among other complaints.
A group of demonstrators in Miami marching to the nearby Palmetto Expressway, where several of them sat down and began blocking traffic in one direction on the major divided highway. Traffic was eventually blocked in both directions, and police weren’t immediately moving demonstrators.
As supporters flooded South Florida streets, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis held a round table with elected officials, including members of Congress. The gathering at Miami’s American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora was closed to reporters, but the governor and others asserted at a news conference later that protests in Cuba were more than just about shortages of vaccines, food and other basic items.
“They are revolting against a corrupt communist dictatorship that has ruled that island with an iron fist for over 60 years, that is responsible for death and destruction, not just on the island of Cuba but really throughout the Western Hemisphere,” DeSantis said, adding the Cubans wanted “a fresh start” and “a free society.”
DeSantis, who is said to be considering a run for the White House in 2024, declined to directly respond to how Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration should be addressing the Cuba developments. But he said federal officials should not be satisfied with the Cuban government making small accommodations to quell demonstrations.
DeSantis and others urged the communist government to restore internet service so Cubans could share their grievances with the world. Failing that, DeSantis said, he encouraged private businesses to find some way to help Cubans regain internet access.
Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar, whose parents were Cuban exiles, said the community needs to speak with one voice in persuading the Biden administration to stand tough against the Cuban government.
“We cannot negotiate with the regime at this hour,” Salazar said.
Miami demonstrators block highway to support Cuban protests