Listen to this Article Now
Pro-government rallies draw massive numbers around Cuba days after the country’s greatest anti-government protests in decades.
At the culmination of a week of upheaval that drew international condemnation, the Cuban government hosted a big demonstration on Havana’s Malecon, the city’s iconic corniche, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The government estimated that 100,000 people attended the “Act of Revolutionary Reaffirmation” march in the Cuban capital, which began before the sun rose and spilled onto the roadway near the US embassy.
Other protests took place across the country.
People arrived by bus and truck, and were greeted with Silvio Rodriguez’s music, one of the few well-known Cuban musicians who did not criticize the government’s harsh response to the protesters last week.
“I’m here to support the Cuban revolution, to give my support as a representative of young Cubans, and to express my discontent with the violent protests that took place in our country.” Yilian Llanes said.
The demonstrations began last Sunday in San Antonio de los Banos. Residents were enraged by the hours-long outages, but resentment over months of food and medicine shortages swiftly overflowed onto the streets across the island.
A few plundered MLC stores — where essentials can only be purchased with foreign dollars – were turned over, and fights between police and regime supporters erupted.
The state’s response, which included arresting hundreds of people, including demonstrators who were dragged from the crowds and held without being notified of their whereabouts, drew a censure from the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday.
“All those detained for exercising their rights must be promptly released,” Michelle Bachelet said.