MIAMI (WSVN) - Large crowds of protesters gathered in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood in a show of solidarity with the people of Cuba as activists on the island nation planned to hold their own demonstrations.
7News cameras captured demonstrators outside Versailles Restaurant along Southwest Eighth Street as they held up signs, waved Cuban and U.S. flags, and chanted “liberty” in Spanish over and over.
Participants said this is their way of showing the people of Cuba that they are not alone.
Some protesters expressed their disgust with the island nation’s leadership.
Monday’s gathering takes place on a day protests were planned in Cuba as part of an opposition movement led by young Cubans.
“They are going to be out on the streets today asking for freedom, so we’re here to support them,” said protester Raul Sanabria.
But the Cuban government has made it clear that protests will not be allowed. On Sunday, playwright Yunior Garcia Aguilera’s plan for a peaceful march carrying a single white rose was stopped by government security.
When he tried to communicate with the people from the confines of his home, government officials covered his windows with a large Cuban flag.
Protesting in Cuba comes with consequences, with reports of demonstrators beaten in the streets and jailed.
Videos show what immediately happened to those demonstrators who went up against the regime.
A mother recorded video of her three children and their friend, a 74-year-old woman, as they were arrested and tossed into a white van.
“I know what happens in those cars,” she said in Spanish moments after her children were taken away.
The woman said she knows the pain her children will suffer. She said officers show no mercy and beat those they detain.
“God put us in this path, which is to fight for liberty and democracy for Cuba,” said the woman.
Through all of her pain, unafraid, the mother spoke up, fully aware of the possible consequences she could face on the island.
The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance in Miami has been receiving videos and pictures from Cubans on the island, like a video of priests marching in solidarity with peaceful protesters. The organization has shared them so that others can see why Cubans demand freedom and what happens to them when they do.
The images that have aired in the U.S. are a stark contrast from what’s being televised in Cuba. There is no mention of demonstrations occurring on their very own streets.
Those who are able to freely express their views in the U.S. said they want the people of Cuba to know they have considerable support in South Florida.
“People need us, they need to know that they’re not alone,” said protester Maritza Manresa. “They were afraid for so long, and they’ve lost — even their fear is lost, so they’re out in the streets, and we’re here with them.”
Monday night, musician Willy Chirino joined the growing crowd outside Versailles.
“It’s a very sad situation, and we as Cubans, free around the world, we have the obligation at this moment to be supporting them,” he said.
7News has learned the 74-year-old woman who was detained in Cuba has been released. Late Monday night, there was no word about the others who were arrested.
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