July 12, 2021

This is something we just haven't seen in Cuba for decades.

"Thousands of protesters on the streets in Havana and other cities and towns nationwide, staging one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades. The protesters there complaining about a lack of freedom and the worsening economic situation as that country grapples with a resurgence of coronavirus," New Day's host John Berman said.

"Overnight, the Biden administration voicing support for peaceful protesters and saying that the U.S. would strongly condemn any violence against them. Cuba's president blamed the U.S. for the protests, saying that sanctions are fueling economic problems there. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is reporting live for us this morning from Havana."

"Large-scale protests are something you don't see in Cuba because the government does not allow it. That all changed on Sunday, though, as thousands of Cubans took to the street not just here in Havana, but across the island," Oppmann said.

"The largest protests we have seen in decades. Calling for liberty, protesters take to the streets in Havana. In front of police, the crowd yells 'Fatherland and life,' a new opposition slogan that has gotten people arrested in Cuba. But Cuba on Sunday seems a very different place, as thousands of people in cities across the island took to the streets and took the government by surprise. These are the largest mass protests in years, perhaps decades.

"Usually any anti-government activity leads to immediate arrest. Protests criticizing the state are simply not allowed here. But on Sunday, though, thousands of people voiced their anger openly and many people told us they simply have lost their fear. Police surrounded the protesters and arrested some of them, but for the most part, they did not or could not stop the demonstrations. The protests are only the latest sign of the unprecedented crisis facing the communist-run island. Even as Cuba produces is own home-grown vaccines, the number of covid cases has skyrocketed."

Oppman said the covid pandemic numbers increase and the economy spirals downward. The island is also hard hit by the U.S. sanctions continued by President Biden.

"The pandemic has cut off tourism and the ability to receive help from relatives abroad for many Cubans. Lines for food now stretch around the block and can last for hours. For many Cubans, waiting for scarce food and medicines has become their life. Every day, there are people out here for whatever there is. Some days you don't know what products they're going to be selling, Rachel says. 'You have to be out here if you want to have food.' "

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