Cuba stages pro-Palestine march past US embassy in Havana

By Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Cubans on Thursday marched in front of the U.S. embassy in Havana charging Israel was committing “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza.

The march, led by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, and which moved along Havana’s seaside drive, the Malecon where the U.S. diplomatic headquarters is located, was the first of its kind in more than a decade.

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, now deceased, was famous for staging similar, but much larger demonstrations to protest U.S. sanctions and meddling in Cuban affairs.

The crowd, sporting Palestinian flags and banners, chanted "free, free Palestine, Israel is genocide" and "up with Palestinian freedom" as it marched by the building and rallied nearby.

Communist-run Cuba has been a strong backer of the Palestinian cause for decades and has trained more than 200 Palestinian doctors. It does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

"We are here and it is no coincidence that we have marched in front of the United States embassy," Anet Rodríguez, a university professor, said.

"The United States is one of the most responsible for supporting the State of Israel ... it is supporting a massacre of the Palestinians and international laws are being violated," she said.

Israel launched its invasion of Gaza after gunmen from Palestinian Islamist group Hamas burst across the border fence, killing 1,200 people and seizing about 240 hostages on Oct. 7, according to Israeli tallies.

Since then, some 14,800 Gazans have been killed by Israeli bombardment, around 40% of them children, according to Palestinian health authorities.

(Additional reporting by Marc Frank and Anet Rios; editing by Diane Craft)