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Canada 'They're terrified': Cuban-Calgarians planning protests to show support for Cuban people

07:07  22 july  2021
07:07  22 july  2021 Source:   calgaryherald.com

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Calgary’s Cuban community has planned numerous protests and demonstrations to raise awareness about the political situation on the Caribbean island country.

a person holding a sign posing for the camera: Anne Marie Harmsen and her husband Jose Gonzalez Estevez hold a Cuban flag outside their home in Chestermere on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. The Cuban-Canadian family is part of local protests calling for democracy and an end to dictatorship in Cuba. © Provided by Calgary Herald Anne Marie Harmsen and her husband Jose Gonzalez Estevez hold a Cuban flag outside their home in Chestermere on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. The Cuban-Canadian family is part of local protests calling for democracy and an end to dictatorship in Cuba.

Thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets in recent weeks to speak out against the communist government. Spurred by shortages of medicine and food, as well as rising COVID-19 numbers, people in the country have taken the rare step of vocally speaking out against the Communist Party of Cuba’s rule.

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 "Patria y Vida", diversion of the slogan of Fidel Castro, "Patria O Muerte", become an anti-government slogan in Cuba, is the title of A song released last February and become viral. © provided by FranceInfo "Patria y Vida" (the homeland and life), one of the slogans of the unpublished manifestations of these last days in Cuba against the castrist power, is the title of a song launched in February by a collective of rappers living in Cuba and abroad and become viral on the island.

In response, president Miguel Diaz-Canel’s government has deployed police and military, blocked social media and internet access, and blamed the lack of supplies on U.S.-sanctioned blockades placed on the country. A human-rights group has reported at least 100 people, including activists, have been detained in the country.

Anne Marie Harmsen, a Chestermere resident with family in Cuba, said her relatives are terrified of what might happen to them, and her family in Canada has been left feeling helpless.

“You can’t help at all. Before, you know, we could always send money or food but it was a Band-Aid,” said Harmsen. “What they actually need, they actually needed to be free.”

She said family members have told her they are afraid to speak out against the government or show any support for anti-government sentiments online. They said police roam the street every day, some in uniform, some in plain clothes. Harmsen said her family in Canada also do not know if they will receive backlash, noting they may no longer be able to visit the island after speaking out publicly.

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“These people are desperate and they just want to be heard, and they want people to know the way that they’ve been living,” said Harmsen. “They are terrified.”


Video: Thousands of Cubans continue to take to streets to push for global action (Global News)

Harmsen said she has seen conditions worsen in Cuba on her nearly annual visits to see family. She said she noticed shelves in stores were becoming increasingly bare and that the last time she went, before the pandemic, it was difficult to find medicine for her daughter. She said her hope is for the country to see a democracy implemented.

She said the local Cuban community wants to raise awareness in Canada about the situation in Cuba and show the Cuban people they are not alone.

“Trying to get people to be aware of kind of what is going on down there and, you know, bring awareness to people who go down to Cuba, kind of what they are supporting,” said Harmsen.

As Cuba erupts, Cuban-Canadians accuse the Trudeau government of turning its back

  As Cuba erupts, Cuban-Canadians accuse the Trudeau government of turning its back The gap between the Biden administration and the Trudeau government this week on Cuba was wider than the straits that separate Havana from Key West. U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States "stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence in their attempt to silence the voices of the people of Cuba." The protests — which saw thousands of Cubans march through cities across the island — are a "clarion call for freedom," said Biden.

She said there have been close to half a dozen protests around Calgary so far and another is being planned for Friday evening. Harmsen said a group of Cuban-Calgarians are planning to meet at 6 p.m. to march down 8th Avenue from 4th Street to city hall, to “support Cuban freedom.”

Harmsen said she wants the Canadian government to intervene.

“They’re alone, they’re essentially alone on this island with nothing,” said Harmsen. “From our government, I mean, somebody’s got to do something.”

Cristelle Chartrand, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said Canada is closely monitoring the situation in Cuba and officials are concerned with “recent events.”

“Canada will always support freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly free from intimidation,” said Chartrand.

She said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously called for greater freedoms and more defence of human rights in Cuba.

— With files from Reuters

dshort@postmedia.com

The Cuba Embassy in Paris targeted by a molotov cocktail attack .
© Google Street View The Cuba Embassy in Paris. Cuba calls into question the United States after an attack that covered its diplomatic mission in the French capital. Cuba denounced on Monday, July 26 an "terrorist" attack with the help of Molotov cocktails against its embassy to Paris and made the United States responsible for the incident.

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This is interesting!