“It was heartwarming to see the support that we had,” Ana Landrian told The Epoch Times. “Some of the kids that were there have never been to Cuba, and yet they were out there with both the Cuban and the American flag asking for freedom.”
The afternoon protest brought together about 1,000 residents to the corner of Wilshire Boulevard.
Landrian said she was grateful to those that came to support Cuba amidst rising tensions in the country.
Demonstrations began erupting in Cuba July 11, when people packed the streets, shouting “liberty” and denouncing food and medicine shortages, power cuts, and other abuses by the communist regime.
Such protests are rare in the repressive island nation. It follows a few smaller gatherings of activists in recent months who criticized the detention of artists and demanded freedom of expression.
“It’s all over the island,” Landrian said. “The people are out in the streets, and you see them wearing masks, so you know that it’s current… and they’re just crying out for freedom, and the most sad and yet beautiful thing is that most of them are young people, under 30 years old. People that were born under their regime are the ones that are screaming for freedom, and they keep saying this is not about the embargo, this is not about COVID, this is about freedom.”
The United States Embargo
The U.S. has had trades restrictions on Cuba for decades, leaving some to say that the embargo is at fault for the current situation.
However, Cuban Americans said otherwise.
“There’s a lot of propaganda about the embargo, but the main problem is the communist system, the repressive dictatorship,” Santiago Martin told The Epoch Times.
Martin continued, “It’s not an accurate statement to say the embargo is responsible for the conditions of the Cuban people. What is, is the corrupt communist system, and where they choose to spend money. They have used their money for military. They’ve used their money for security, which is to keep the people in place. If you look at the protestors, they don’t have weapons, they don’t have anything other than a cell phone. The government has put together these squads of goons, handed out sticks, and set them loose on the people.”
Martin warned about “fake news” revolving around the embargo, stating that it is not the cause of the protest in Cuba.
“The situation is desperate,” he said. “The people on the streets are not saying take down the embargo, send us money, send us food, and those vaccines. They’re saying, we want freedom…nothing is said about the embargo, only the government talks about the embargo because they want to deflect.
“If you were to knock down the embargo today, you’d still have a one-party system. They’ll have no freedom of speech. It’s just ridiculous to try to blame it on the embargo, there is no embargo that’s worldwide. They can trade with 180 countries.”
Martin last spoke to family members that remain in Cuba a few days ago as communication continues to be spotty since the government cut the Internet service. His said his family is fearful to speak since their communication is monitored.
An Emotional Past
Landrian’s story began in Cuba during the regime of Fidel Castro.
In 1961, her father filed paperwork to leave the country, and in 1969 her family was approved to leave.
Three years before their departure, in 1966, Landrian’s father was taken away to work at a concentration camp. Every day, her mother lived in fear that she too would be taken away and her children would be left behind or put into a revolutionary.
Growing up, Landrian witnessed the oppression of the communist regime as her mom was forbidden to work and she learned communist ideology in the classroom.
She recalls the day when a man on a motorcycle came to her home and told them it was time to leave.
When they were scheduled to leave in 1969, Landrian and her family joyfully picked up her father from the concentration camp where she still remembers the happiness that erupted when his friends saw he was finally leaving.
“It’s not a story for me, it’s not a fairy book tale,” she said recalling her painful past. “That’s the part that’s really hard for me even, when people don’t believe us when we tell the story… it’s not fabricated, it happened to me.”