Thousands of Cubans marched on the Malecon promenade in Havana and elsewhere on the island on Sunday to protest food shortages and high prices during the coronavirus crisis, one of the largest anti-government demonstrations in history.
Many young people took part in the protests in the capital in the afternoon, which disrupted traffic until the police did not enter the venue a few hours later and interrupted the march when some protesters threw stones.
When protesters chanted “freedom”, “enough” and “unity”, the police initially fell behind. A motorcyclist took out an American flag, but was snatched by others.
“We are fed up with queues and shortages. That’s why I am here,” a middle-aged protester told The Associated Press. For fear of being arrested later, he refused to reveal his identity.
Cuba is experiencing its worst economic crisis in decades, while coronavirus cases are making a comeback.
The number of demonstrators near Galeano Avenue increased to several thousand, and despite some allegations by the police and tear gas barrage, the demonstrators continued to advance. Standing on the many balconies along the central artery of the Centro Habana community, people applauded the passing protesters. Others also joined the parade.
Although many people tried to use their mobile phones to broadcast the protests, the Cuban authorities shut down Internet services throughout the afternoon.
About two and a half hours after the march began, some protesters pulled up pebbles and threw them at the police. At this time, the police arrested people and the marchers dispersed.
A group of government supporters also arrived in the area, chanting slogans supporting the late President Fidel Castro and the revolution. Some of them attacked a photographer and an Associated Press photographer.