Biden backs Cuban protests as island’s president blames ‘imperialist’ provocations

The protests, the largest in decades, come amid economic and COVID crises.

By Libby Cathey andConor Finnegan | ABC News |

Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty ImagesYamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images
People take part in a demonstration to support the government of the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2021.

President Joe Biden on Monday released a statement in solidarity with the thousands of Cubans who protested over the weekend about shortages and rising prices for food and medicine amid the coronavirus pandemic in what’s being called an unprecedented rejection of the island nation’s government.

Cuba’s communist leadership has already denounced the protests as a “systemic provocation” by Cuban dissidents and the U.S. government, encouraged its supporters to counter protests, and sent its armed forces into the streets, risking clashes with demonstrators.

“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” Biden said in a statement Monday.

“The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves,” he said.

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