'Harsh reality of everyday life in Cuba' to blame for protests not US, White House says

·2 min read

The White House is rebuking Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's claims that protesters demonstrating against his government are a "counterrevolutionary, mercenary" group financed by the United States.

Unrest that broke out in Cuba demanding an end to the country's communist dictatorship amid an economic crisis exacerbated by the pandemic was prompted by "exhaustion of the governance of the leaders in the state, the economic mismanagement, and the repression taking place against the people in the country," according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

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"These are protests inspired by the harsh reality of everyday life in Cuba," she told reporters Monday.

The U.S. embargo does not prevent humanitarian aid or medical supplies reaching Cuba, and the U.S. has sent "a great deal of assistance" over the last several months, according to Psaki. Though Cuba is not taking part in the COVAX global COVID-19 vaccine program, the administration is "working through" how to get doses to them, she said.

"We have to determine what the mechanism would be to work with the Cuban people to get vaccines to them," she added.

Diaz-Canel has blamed the U.S. for fomenting the demonstrations with the "economic asphyxiation" of former President Donald Trump's sanctions. Biden has not relaxed the measures during the first six months of his term to mirror former President Barack Obama's policy in the region.

"Our approach continues to be governed by two principles. First, support for democracy and human rights, which is going to continue to be at the core to our efforts through empowering the Cuban people to determine their own future," Psaki said. "Second, Americans, especially Cuban Americans are the best ambassadors for freedom and prosperity in Cuba."

Diaz-Canel has also alleged the U.S. paid "counterrevolutionary, mercenary" groups to voice their opposition to his government.

Biden backed the Cuban protesters Monday morning, who he said were "bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights." The president urged Diaz-Canel to resist quelling the unrest with force.

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"We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba's authoritarian regime," he said. "The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves."

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Tags: News, Biden Administration, Biden, Joe Biden, White House

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: 'Harsh reality of everyday life in Cuba' to blame for protests not US, White House says

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