Protesters say police arrested Cuban influencer during anti-communist rally at Versailles

Jimena Tavel, Al Diaz

During an anti-communist rally Saturday on Miami’s iconic Calle Ocho, the police arrested at least one person, whom many protesters identified as popular Cuban influencer Alex Otaola, one of the event’s organizers.

At 2 p.m., about 300 people gathered at Versailles, 3555 SW Eighth St., to support the recent demonstrations of the San Isidro Movement in Cuba, a collective of young artists and activists who oppose Miguel Diaz-Canel’s regime. At about 3 p.m., the protesters at Versailles charged that police officers arrested Otaola and others as well.

A Herald staffer saw at least five people getting handcuffed or put inside police cars.

Officer Kenia Fallat, a spokeswoman for the Miami Police Department, confirmed in an email to the Miami Herald at about 3:30 p.m. that, “As of now, we have arrested one person.”

“There was a crowd who spilled onto the street, but now on the sidewalk,” she added.

Fallat didn’t explain why officers arrested the person and didn’t disclose a name. She said the department wouldn’t answer further questions about the arrest until 8 a.m. Monday.

The crowd remained in the area after the arrest, chanting phrases such as “Otaola, we are all,” “Down with Díaz-Canel,” and “Cuba free,” according to various videos posted on social media.

María Elvira Salazar, the former journalist who recently won the federal congressional race for District 27 in Florida, said in a post on her Facebook account at about 3 p.m. that she spoke with Miami Mayor Francis Suárez and that “they are going to release” Otaola “in the next few minutes.”

“Otaola supports the cause of freedom!” Salazar wrote. “It has been a bad moment that is about to end. Otaola is our friend and we are with him! “

Acabo de hablar con el Alcalde de la ciudad de Miami— Francis Suárez— y a Alex Otaola lo van a soltar en los próximos...

Posted by Maria Elvira Salazar on Saturday, November 28, 2020