Cuban protests are ‘beginning of a movement,’ expert says

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Cubans have reached a breaking point.

Hunger, health, anxiety and anger have spilled over into one another, opening the floodgates of decades-long oppression and emotion.

“Those spontaneous, unprecedented and massive mobilizations of Cubans — we’ve never seen that,” said Dr. Luis Martinez Fernandez, a history professor at the University of Central Florida who was born in Havana.

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He knows well what is playing out on the island.

“What the government does is it unleashes these violent fanatics to beat up and insult Cubans who are basically asking for a universal right, which is a right to protest peacefully,” Fernandez said.

The communist government has arrested hundreds of protesters and restricted internet access in Cuba.

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“I think this is the beginning of a movement in which Cubans have said, ‘Enough is enough,’” Fernandez said.

Cuban Americans in Florida, including Alberto Sarmiento, are protesting. His father and grandparents fled for freedom, and he wants American politicians to do more to protect the people on the island.

“We need action in Cuba now,” he said.

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Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban American, has been a staunch opponent of the Cuban government, taking to social media and writing a letter to President Joe Biden giving him steps to take.

Congresswoman Val Demings released a statement on Monday and tweeted as well.

“Biden responde” signs still stand as Cuban Americans ask more from their president for their people on the island.

“The Biden Administration is dealing with China, Russia, Iran — the plate is full,” Fernandez said. “What I would like to see is a little slice of that plate dedicated to Cuba.”

READ: ‘I am a product of history’: Orlando rallies in support of Cuba

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.