MIAMI (WSVN) - Protests demanding democracy for the people of Cuba continued in South Florida for a fifth consecutive day, as reports of concessions from the Cuban government began to spread.
7SkyForce HD hovered over hundreds of demonstrators marching in Hialeah, Thursday evening.
“Viva Cuba libre!” shouted 6-year-old Amir, her voice amplified by a loudspeaker.
“Viva!” marchers shouted back.
A woman in a wheelchair was seen waving a small Cuban flag.
Protesters who spoke to 7News said the situation in Cuba is dire.
“They are our brothers and they’re suffering,” one woman said. “They are being slaughtered and killed and this is horrible.”
“They have no medicine, no food, the electricity goes out every day, no water,” said a marcher. “It’s been 62 years of oppression and living under communism, which is the worst. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”
“This is a crime to humanity, what they are doing now, and to top it off, the dictatorship has turned massively and openly bloody,” said another marcher, “are killing innocents: teenagers, kids. That’s not fair. The world must know.”
Demonstrators at Westland Mall joined marchers who had made their way down West 16th Avenue from 49th Street and walked together across the shopping center’s parking mall.
Led by local leaders as police officers supervised, marchers returned to West 49th Street and headed eastbound along the westbound lanes, which were shut down at 3 p.m. between 12th and 16th avenues.
One marcher said he wants to ensure media coverage of the protests in Cuba is accurate.
“Why don’t you guys report the real deal, man? What’s going on in Cuba, it’s not about the COVID-19, it’s about the freedom,” he said.
Earlier Thursday, demonstrators could be seen holding signs demanding the liberty of Cuba on a sidewalk in Miami Lakes, Thursday.
“This is beyond political. This is people dying. This is children, elderly suffering and then people questioning whether they’re going to live to see a tomorrow,” said organizer Vanessa Wong. “Better yet, a free tomorrow, and we’re here fighting for that.”
Wong, like so many other Cuban Americans in South Florida, is pushing to be heard in hopes it leads to U.S. and global intervention.
Cuban Americans desperately want the U.S. and beyond to intervene.
“We need the people to Cuba to be able to communicate amongst themselves. We need the people of Cuba to be able to communicate with the world about what’s happening in Cuba,” said U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla.
The demonstrations across the Sunshine State have not slowed down since Sunday.
On Wednesday night, Cuban-born Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo marched alongside ralliers.
“You don’t see this city burning. You don’t see things getting destroyed. You see people exercising their First Amendment rights,” Acevedo said.
Earlier in the day, Acevedo was also seen hugging a demonstrator as emotions ran high.
Support was also seen near Bayside Marina as a flotilla of vessels gathered to demonstrate their support of the protests happening in Cuba.
The U.S. Coast Guard has warned people against making the trip because of how dangerous it is.
“The Coast Guard has a plan to provide additional resources: people in our marinas, also ships on the water and aircraft in the air,” said a Coast Guard spokesperson. “The purpose is to monitor the situation, be there in case something happens, but more importantly, to discourage people from taking a dangerous voyage.”
Despite the possible dangers, the boaters are hoping the Coast Guard gives them the OK to go to Cuba.
“As close as possible to the shore of Cuba and get flares out so that we can let the Cuban people know we’re there,” organizer Jorge Lopez said.
In Hialeah, passionate protesters blocked traffic as they stood in the middle of West 49th Street.
They are demanding an end to the suffering, they said, their loved ones are facing.
Like many other demonstrators, Leilicary Lemus said she has been unable to reach her family in Cuba.
“My family is one of them suffering. I haven’t heard from my grandpa in the longest time. I haven’t been able to talk to them,” she said. “There’s so many people missing. There’s so many people dead, and nobody is doing anything about it.”
Local leaders said they want to help Cuban Americans restore contact with their loved ones.
“We have today the technological capability to get around Cuban’s internet blockage,” said Federal Communication Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr.
U.S. Rep. Maria Salazar, R-Fla., said the momentum that Cubans started on the island continues to increase in the U.S.
“Here in Miami, our community is boiling over with frustration and support, yet when we look to the White House, we only see tepid statements, a lack of resolve,” she said.
Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden addressed the turmoil in Cuba.
“Communism is a failed system, a universally failed system, and I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute,” he said.
Marchers in Hialeah have since headed back to West 12th Avenue, where their protest started. About 90 minutes later, police officers asked demonstrators to clear the roadway.
Meanwhile, Florida Highway Patrol cruisers were seen entering the Palmetto Expressway near Northwest 74th Street to stop a group of protesters from blocking the highway near the 103rd Street exit. Demonstrators have been able to shut down the Palmetto successfully twice this week.
Just after 10 p.m., 7News cameras captured a considerably smaller crowd of protesters along West 49th Street and 12th Avenue. Police shut down the intersection in both directions. The intersection has since reopened.
Other demonstrations were held on Wednesday, including one near the Homestead Air Reserve Base and another in Little Havana. Until they see a free Cuba, organizers said, these protests are not going to stop.
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.