KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Cuban Americans gathered in Market Square on Thursday to support the largest protests seen in the island country since the end of the Soviet Union. The Cuban government’s failure to remedy shortages of food and medicines, repeated electricity outages and cruelty toward Cubans protesting the shortfalls sparked the Knoxville group, as well as others around the United States, to offer encouragement.
The shortages of basic necessities have been brought on by sanctions and loss of tourism amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Knoxville supporters said they want the United States government to intervene and help the Cuban people, who are calling for a change from the Communist government that has been in power for six decades.
“We’re fighting for our freedom, for our country, there’s suffering over there,” Israel Suarez, a Knoxville supporter, said. “And they’ve been taken, their rights, and it’s been 60 years of communism and we’re rising to the top now for the occasion. So we’re asking for intervention from our government to intervene and stop the communism.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials pressed the White House on Thursday to preserve internet service to the anti-government protesters in Cuba.
A second rally will be held Saturday in Knoxville. Protesters will meet at Market Square again at 5:30 p.m.