Cuban community leaders unveil plans for rally in Little Havana

MIAMI (WSVN) - While celebrations filled the streets of Little Havana, Sunday, local members of the Cuban exile community met to discuss details of an upcoming rally calling for change in the island nation in the wake of the death of former ruler Fidel Castro.

The meeting took place at the Bay of Pigs Museum, located at 1821 S.W. 8th St., Sunday morning, and it was filled with emotional testimony, in English and Spanish, from community leaders.

“In spite of all of the polls, of all the arguments of so many so-called experts that said we were dead, that we had changed, that we were not committed, this Cuban exile community lives,” said Sylvia Iriondo with Mothers and Women Against Repression in Cuba.

Leaders also announced plans for a rally “for liberty and democracy in Cuba.”

“We’re calling on our community to go there,” said Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat of the Cuban Democratic Directorate. “Cubans, Venezuelans, everybody who’s been affected by this regime. Join us in demanding freedom and democracy for Cuba. Viva Cuba libre. Todos por Cuba libre.”

The rally will be held at the Bay of Pigs Monument, located at 806 S.W. 13th Ave., Wednesday afternoon. Organizers plan to have thousands gather to join the fight for freedom and put pressure on the Cuban government as they send a message of hope to the people of Cuba.

“It will be concise and powerful,” said Humberto Diaz Arguelles, president of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association.

Diaz Arguelles compared this fight to the one he faced on the southern coast of Cuba more than five decades ago. “We were only 1,800 persons fighting against 80,000 people from the Cuban army, so we wanted people to join us,” he said. “We are in exactly the same thing. That was back in 1961, and in 2016, we’re saying, ‘Come over. We welcome you.'”

U.S. Army veteran Julio De Castro said the rally will send a powerful message. “If we show a big force of people there, they will see it in Cuba, and that will give them some kind of relief,” he said.

Iriondo said it will also assure fellow Cubans that people in the U.S. are fighting for liberty and democracy in the homeland. “God bless Cuba, God bless America, and may God help us secure the freedom of Cuba,” she said.

The rally is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 5 p.m.

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