MIAMI (WSVN) - Cuban American families living in South Florida said they are trying to get in touch with loved ones in Cuba as protests and violent confrontations continue on the island nation.
Cellphone video captured a man as police officers hit him repeatedly before they took him away.
Jennifer Acosta said the man in the video is her brother, 24-year-old Franco Alvero, and the footage was recorded by a neighbor in the middle of Sunday’s uprising.
“We have no access to see him, to make sure he’s even alive,” she said.
Meanwhile, local protesters voiced their opposition to the Cuban government for a sixth consecutive day.
Friday night, 7News captured a crowd of demonstrators who gathered in front of Little Havana’s iconic Versailles Restaurant.
Protesters waved Cuban flags, held up signs and banged on pots and pans.
“Down with communism!” a demonstrator screamed in Spanish.
“I came over here when I was a kid, and I still have family over there, and we have to support the people back home and let them know that we’re here for them,” said another protester.
The group marched more than two miles to Domino Park in a show of support and solidarity for their family and friends in Cuba.
“We’re hoping that this makes a change. We’re hoping that this support does something and brings about change because it’s about time,” said organizer Marvin Tapia.
Others jogged for justice. The Brickell Run Club held a three-mile run along Calle Ocho.
The local demonstrations unfold as Cubans continue to take to the streets to call for freedom and protest food shortages and other issues.
“In his case, [my brother] didn’t get to scream for freedom, because as soon as he went out, he got his phone and was trying to take a video [when] many, many people from the military that were dressing up like regular people, they beat him up,” said Acosta.
Acosta and her family has not heard from Alvero since. She said his mother has tried to see him but was turned away.
“They don’t want us to see him, they don’t want us to see the [medical] condition he’s in,” said Acosta.
In the city of Camagüey, cellphone video showed a woman being carried away on Sunday.
The woman, who was reportedly a journalist, was detained along with her co-workers while covering the protests.
Speaking in Spanish at a news conference held at the Center for a Free Cuba on Friday, Maria Ferreiro said her son, Henry Constantin Ferreiro, was among those taken into custody.
“They are journalists, not criminals,” she said.
Ferreiro said her son has been charged with public disorder and incitement, and she hasn’t been able to speak to him.
“The summary trial, I fear very long sentences, and I fear for their lives,” she said. “I ask all journalist associations in the world to help me and to help in achieving the freedom of these youth.”
At Miami International Airport, a candlelight vigil was held Friday night for those who have lost their lives and all the others who continue to suffer under the Cuban government.
Those with direct connections to Cuba said their family and neighbors are living in fear that they or someone they love will be next.
“The whole country right now is kidnapped. They’re like slaves to the government, and they’re tired of it,” said Acosta.
As Acosta waits for word on the fate of her brother, she made a plea for the country she now calls home.
“You need to lead us, because America is the symbol of freedom. That’s why I came to America,” she said. “We’re talking about liberty of real people. You can’t let them do this.”
As of 10 p.m., the protest near Versailles showed no signs of slowing down.
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