Blinken calls on Cuba to respect rights ahead of planned protests

Associated Press/Ramon Epinosa

Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Cuba to “reject violence, and instead, embrace this historic opportunity to listen to the voices of their people” ahead of planned protests against the Communist regime on Monday.

“The United States stands with the people of Cuba. We commend their bravery and unwavering pursuit of democracy, prosperity, and fundamental rights and freedoms,” the statement also said, adding that the U.S. would “pursue measures” to support Cubans and advocate for accountability for human rights violations. 

The statement referenced rare protests across Cuba in July to demand change, which were met with violence, censorship and arrests.

Though the protests are set to take place on Monday, Blinken said “the Cuban government has already made clear that it does not want to listen” by denying permission for the protest, dismissing opponents from their jobs and threatening them with prison time. 

The U.S. State Department’s statement condemned the Cuban government’s intimidation efforts and called upon Cuban leaders to reject violence and respect the rights of their people.

“We must speak with one voice, calling on the Cuban government to respect those exercising their rights in peaceful protest on November 15, and to release all those unjustly detained,” Blinken added.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla last week accused the U.S. of helping plan the protest in an effort to destabilize Cuba.

Yunior García, one of the country’s leading anti-government activists, pledged to march alone on Sunday dressed in white while carrying a white rose as a symbol of those who could not participate in the protests.

However, he was prevented from marching and instead held a white rose out his window as state security surrounded his home, NBC News reported.

In a Facebook Live post on Sunday, García said it was his “human and constitutional right to walk as a free citizen on a street, carrying a white rose,” according to NBC.

“We are not mercenaries, nor are we receiving orders from anyone,” García said last week after meeting with government prosecutors. “We are openly demonstrating a difference of opinion.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. House passed a resolution in support of the protest on Nov. 15. despite the opposition of 40 Democratic lawmakers. 

Tags Antony Blinken Cuba Cuban protests

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