MIAMI (WSVN) - The largest demonstration in support of the protests ongoing in Cuba is expected to be held outside of the iconic Freedom Tower in downtown Miami over the weekend.
A smaller, peaceful protest consisting of about three dozen people began at around 7 p.m. outside of the Freedom Tower on Friday.
“Cities come together because this is a crisis that intimately affects our city,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “So many people in our city were born in Cuba or are from Cuba or have family in Cuba.”
Cellphone video captured Cuban police officers beating a man who was protesting earlier this week, and officers could also be seen firing into crowds.
The protests on the island have turned into a weeklong rally in South Florida. Saturday is expected to see the biggest demonstration to demand democracy for the island nation, and it will begin at 5:30 p.m.
SOSCuba, slated as a call to action to the U.S. and the world, will take over downtown Miami outside of the Freedom Tower and by the FTX Arena.
“Cubans need actions,” activist Rosa Maria Paya said. “These are times for actions, not for statements.”
Paya is the daughter of Oswaldo Paya, a Cuban dissident who died in a car crash on the island in 2012. The cause of his death was disputed for nearly a decade, and some believe the crash was not an accident.
“Freedom and the end of the dictatorship,” Paya said. “The governments of the world, especially the democracies of the world, cannot demand any less.”
The Freedom Tower is a symbol of hope and freedom, as immigrants who once sought citizenship in South Florida stepped foot into the building to be processed.
“The Freedom Tower is this incredibly special place for the Cubans in Miami, for my parents that were processed there when they first arrived,” Miami-Dade College President Madeline Pumariega said.
The event will be unlike the demonstrations occurring across South Florida, according to singer/actor Jencarlos Canela.
“You will see images that we’ve gotten access to from people in Cuba,” he said. “You will hear voice notes of people in Cuba talking directly to the exile community, talking to the international community and to all of their brothers and sisters out here — whoever can be an echo for their cry for liberty.”
Cuban Americans hope their calls for freedom for those on the island will not go unnoticed.
“This is a moment where we together as a nation, together as a city, we prove the morals, the principals that we stand for,” Canela said. “You know, 90 miles away, there are innocent lives, unarmed lives being repressed, being killed by a totalitarian regime. It goes beyond politics. It’s a humanitarian rights issue.”
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