(CNN) – Thousands of Cubans took to the streets on an unusual day of protest on Sunday to complain about the lack of freedom and the deteriorating economic situation, according to protesters who spoke to CNN, as well as appearing in videos that featured protests in several cities. . from the country.
In the city of San Antonio de los Baños, on the outskirts of Havana Province, hundreds of people faced a heavy police presence to voice their complaints.
One resident, who did not want to be identified, told CNN that residents have been experiencing power outages for a week, and this has “stirred up” the growing anger.
Videos uploaded to social media showed further protests in a few cities and towns on the island.
In some of the videos, people were shouting that they were “not afraid” or that they wanted freedom or access to coronavirus vaccines.
The already faltering Cuban economy has been hit hard as imports of tourism and merchandise have fallen sharply during the pandemic. On Sunday, Cuban health officials reported a record one-day increase in new COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Cuban president blames US government for nationwide protests
The Cuban president blamed the US government for the unprecedented protests that swept most of the island on Sunday.
In a nationally televised address, Miguel Diaz-Canel said US trade sanctions have created economic misery on the communist-run island.
Several thousand Cubans took to the streets on Sunday, complaining about the lack of food and medicine. Police arrested several people who used tear gas to break up some protests.
Diaz-Canel made no concessions to the protesters in his speech.
“The order has been given to fight, the revolutionaries must be in the streets,” he said at the end of his appearance.