The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana teamed up with Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo to hold a Friday evening march in solidarity with the demonstrators in Cuba protesting against the communist regime, amid arrests and summary trials on the island.
Hundreds of people marched down Southwest Eighth Street, as demonstrators gathered near 24th Avenue and then began walking until they reached Cuban Memorial Boulevard Park near Southwest Ninth Street and 13th Avenue.
Waving Cuban flags and carrying a banner with the words “Patria y Vida” on it, the group marched, shouting “Libertad” and “Patria y Vida,” with Miami police officers clearing Eighth Street for the demonstration. Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, who is Cuban-American, walked in uniform alongside the protesters.
“We are Cuban Americans,” said Jorge Fernandez, president of the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana. “Our families are Cuban Americans and we feel the need to gather here and march down Southwest Eighth Street to show support for our brothers and sisters in Cuba that are presently being oppressed just for the fact that they want to enjoy the same rights that we do here.”
Employees and customers at stores and restaurants along Eighth Street cheered the demonstrators on, and some captured the moment on their phones.
Organizers of Friday’s march emphasized the importance of continuing the movement in Miami, with Sunday marking two weeks since protests began in Cuba on July 11.
“It’s extremely important because in Cuba they still have not been able to wipe out the demonstrations in the streets throughout different Cuban cities,” Carollo said. “We have to keep that same momentum in Miami to not only bring attention to that cause, but to give them hope inside Cuba and give them encouragement that they’re not alone. That we in Miami are going to be out in the streets, also.”
When the group arrived at Cuban Memorial Boulevard Park following a 30-minute march down Eighth Street, demonstrators came together for a prayer and Carollo made an announcement to the crowd: There will be an event, “Abajo Cadenas,” on July 31 at 5 p.m. at Bayfront Park to call for freedom in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
President Joe Biden on Thursday condemned the mass detentions of anti-government protesters in Cuba and announced new sanctions against the island nation’s top military general. Carollo called it “a very positive step from the Biden administration, but nowhere near enough.”
“You’re not going to change anything there by a few sanctions,” Carollo said. “There has to be a lot more that has to be done. That’s what we’re going to be asking of his administration.”