One man has died during rare anti-government demonstrations in Cuba that have shaken the island in recent days.
Dubis Laurencio Tejeda, 36, died in a suburb of Havana on Monday during a clash between protesters and police.
According to the inside ministry, he was a part of a gaggle that attacked a government facility. It says some demonstrators were arrested.
But witnesses say the safety forces attacked people that had taken to the streets to protest.
The rare nationwide anti-government demonstrations began on Sunday when thousands began protesting over food and medicine shortages, price hikes, and therefore the government’s handling of the Covid-19 epidemic. Such unauthorized public gatherings are illegal in Cuba.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel has called the demonstrators “counter-revolutionaries”.
His government has sought responsible, and its economic sanctions, for both the protests and Cuba’s wider problems.
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As yet there’s no official explanation for the way Diubis Laurencio Tejeda died.
State media said he had been involved in “disturbances” within the La Guinea neighborhood of Havana on Monday, where a gaggle allegedly attacked a government facility. It reported that several others had been injured, including members of the safety forces.
In a statement on Tuesday, the inside ministry accused demonstrators of vandalism, setting fires, and attacking the police also as civilians.
But witnesses have said the safety forces attacked peaceful protesters who joined a spontaneous demonstration within the neighborhood.
Waldo Herrera, who lives within the area, told Reuter’s press agency officers had drawn their guns and began shooting at the demonstrators.
“I think the Communists have lost control, they will not have an answer to the present situation,” he said.
On Tuesday, the police were called in to force on the streets. quite 100 people are arrested and lots of relatives are trying to find information on their whereabouts.
A woman asking about her 21-year-old son at a Havana police headquarters told the AFP press agency he had been taken from his home, “handcuffed and beaten”. She added: “They took many from the neighborhood, young and old.”
A young man, who only gave his name as Carlos Alberto and was contacted by phone by the BBC, said he was hiding at his girlfriend’s home after participating in a demonstration.
“I’m afraid an equivalent thing could happen to me,” he said. “We’re just posing for freedom and with this attitude, they’re showing what they are: a dictatorship.”
What’s behind the protests?
The unrest began with an indication within the city of San Antonio de Los Baños, southwest of Havana, but it soon spread throughout the country.
Posts on social media showed people overturning police cars and looting state-owned shops that price their goods in foreign currencies. for several Cubans, these shops are the sole way they will buy basic necessities but prices are high.
The demonstrations appear to be the results of societal exhaustion stemming from various economic and health crises, analysts say. The pandemic and economic measures taken by the govt have made life in Cuba increasingly difficult.
There are reports of internet blackouts across the island. Cuba unrolled access to mobile internet in December 2018, but it’s controlled by the state.
Internet shutdown watchdog NetBlocks said on Monday that state-run internet provider Etecsa had blocked access to platforms including WhatsApp and Facebook.
The Cuban journalist Camila Acosta, who writes for the Spanish newspaper ABC, is among those that are detained.
Spanish secretary of state José Manuel Albares involved her immediate release during a tweet on Tuesday, and asked Cuba to respect people’s right to demonstrate “freely and peacefully”.