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Cuba protests: Arrests after thousands rally against government

  • Cuba protests: Arrests after thousands rally against government
    "There are police at every corner and practically all you see going past is police patrols." Cuba protests: Arrests after thousands rally against government
Region:
America
Category:
Politics
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Dozens of people have been arrested in Cuba after thousands joined the biggest protests for decades against the island's Communist government, media and opposition sources say.

Unauthorised public gatherings are illegal in Cuba and protests are rare.

Images on social media showed what appeared to be security forces detaining, beating and pepper-spraying some of the protesters.

Cuba's president labelled those protesting "mercenaries".

In a four-hour-long televised address President Miguel Díaz-Canel slammed protestors as "counter-revolutionaries" while his foreign minister alleged the demonstrations had been financed and instigated by the United States.

But those who took to the streets said they were angry about the collapse of the economy, food and medicine shortages, price hikes and the government's handling of Covid-19.

There were reports of internet blackouts across the island. Access to mobile internet was rolled out in December 2018 in Cuba but is controlled by the state-owned telecommunications company Etecsa.

Internet monitoring site Netblocks said access to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Telegram had been restricted by Etecsa's servers.

Mobile internet is the main way for Cubans to access independent news and many said the blackouts had increased the sense of ominous unease following the protests.

There also appeared to be a heightened presence of security forces with one Havana resident reporting that "the streets are full of police".

"There are police at every corner and practically all you see going past is police patrols."