White House offers support for Cuban protesters, warns communist leaders against crackdown

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White House officials are signaling support for Cubans protesting the lack of food and COVID-19 vaccines amid an economic crisis on the communist-run island nation.

They also warned communist leaders not to crack down on thousands of protesters who took to the streets in Havana and other cities. Some of the protesters called for President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down.

“The U.S. supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights,” President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, tweeted.

Cuba’s economic situation has worsened amid the pandemic due to a drop in tourism and imports.

The U.S. Embassy in Cuba acknowledged the protesters’ plight.

“The people are exercising their right to assembly to express their concern about the increase in cases and deaths from COVID and the shortage of medicines,” it tweeted. “We recognize the efforts of the Cuban people organizing donations to help their compatriots.”

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