MIAMI (WSVN) - It’s hard not to miss these passionate protesters blocking traffic and standing in the middle of West 49th Street in Hialeah, chanting with signs and flags held high, and a message that’s very clear.
“We want to stand with Cuba, we want to stand with the people of Cuba,” said protester Aney Diaz.
They are demanding an end to the suffering they say their loved ones have endured for decades on the island nation — many without food, electricity and even medication.
“My family is one of them suffering. I haven’t heard from my grandpa in the longest time, I haven’t heard from him,” said protester Leilicary Lemus. “There’s so many people missing and so many people dead and nobody is doing anything about it.”
“It hurts me to know that people, where my family is from, are suffering like this,” Diaz said. “It hurts me that my family had to run away from where they were born to give me a proper life.”
Another big demonstration near the Homestead Air Reserve Base.
There, it was even more chanting, dozens yelling “U-S-A,” and “Please help Cuba!”
A smaller group also made their voices heard in West Miami-Dade.
“I want to see much more involvement from the U.S. government, from the international forums,” a protester said. “We want internet in Cuba right now, and we know we have the technology to do it. We want support, not just words, we want action.”
Back in Hialeah, the protesting went well into the night, and they say this South Florida support won’t stop unless some major changes are done.
“I have a lot of family over there, cousins and uncles, and I want them to know that if they’re in the street protesting, we will be too,” said a protestor.
“I want them to be free, and I want communism to stop!” Lemus said. “They’re killing them! I need them to stop!”
Meanwhile in Little Havana, Heriberto Carcases shared his painful story of fleeing Cuba to help 7News understand why South Florida has been protesting for four days.
“We’ve all been humiliated by this regime in Cuba,” Carcases said. “First I lived through it when I was a kid having nothing. I still remember like it was yesterday not having electricity, not having shoes, not having food.”
Like so many other Cuban Americans, he left Cuba at a young age and never imagined he’d witness his own people fighting away like they’ve never before.
“This has given me a lot of hope that my people, my brothers and sisters, my family — they’re finally gonna be free,” Carcases said.
Free to live life how they choose, that’s what everyone at Calle Ocho wants for their people back home.
“That’s why I’m here today, and I’ll be here tomorrow, and I’ll be here every day until this gets done because we’re close,” Carcases said.
The day started with chants, messages, music, but people needed to make it very clear this is not a celebration.
“A lot of the people in the crowd, their family members, their friends are in Cuba right now and are experiencing the most brutal repression,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
Local leaders walked up and embraced the crowd. It has been an emotional few days.
“There’s nothing to be rejoiceful for right now, unfortunately,” Suarez said. “The only thing there is is their hope that this moment becomes something bigger.”
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