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Cuban president accuses Washington of stirring up unrest amid pandemic

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-07-14 09:39

Flag-waving supporters of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel are among those gathering in front of the National Capitol building in Havana on Monday. [YANDER ZAMORA/GETTY IMAGES]

HAVANA-Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Monday accused the United States of attempting to stoke social unrest on the island, where violence broke out in several towns on Sunday.

The president, who on Sunday called on loyalists "to take to the streets to defend the revolution", appeared again on national radio and television channels, accompanied by members of his cabinet and the politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba, or PCC.

The comment came a day after anti-government rallies erupted in several cities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, disrupting traffic in the capital Havana for several hours. Diaz-Canel blamed the unrest on the US pursuing a "policy of economic suffocation to provoke social unrest in the country".

Diaz-Canel said he was taking to the airwaves "to clarify that a whole group of interests in recent weeks and in recent hours has tried … to discredit the work of the government".

"We've seen how the campaign against Cuba was growing on social media in the past few weeks. …That's the way it's done: Try to create inconformity, dissatisfaction by manipulating emotions and feelings," he said.

The first secretary of the PCC Central Committee said his appearance had been planned for days to "provide information" to the people about the situation in the country, which is undergoing shortages of food, medicine, and fuel.

Diaz-Canel accused the US of seeking to stoke social unrest in Cuba when the country is experiencing its worst COVID-19 outbreak.

He highlighted the efforts made by the government to tackle the pandemic, particularly in the western province of Matanzas, which has become the epicenter of the outbreak in Cuba.

Measures adopted

On Monday, the Caribbean nation logged 6,423 coronavirus cases and 42 additional deaths, taking the national counts to 244,914 and 1,579, respectively.

Cuban authorities have adopted measures to increase the island's hospital capacity by 510 beds in intensive-care units.

In Varadero, the country's most popular seaside resort, two hotel facilities will be turned into COVID-19 wards for infected patients in Matanzas.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Planning Alejandro Gil said the nation has spent about $182 million on medical supplies and equipment in response to the health emergency.

In parallel, more than 19 percent of adults across the country have received three doses of locally made vaccines.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said that the US "genocidal blockade" of Cuba was the cause of its economic difficulties.

In response to the unrest and Diaz-Canel's call for solidarity, many Cubans took to the streets on Sunday to show their support for the government.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expressed "all support" for the Cuban government during a televised meeting. His Argentine counterpart Alberto Fernandez demanded that the US sanctions on Cuba be lifted, although he rejected a possible intervention.

US-Cuba relations have been particularly fraught since then-president Donald Trump reinforced sanctions following a historic but temporary easing of tensions under Barack Obama's administration between 2014 and 2016.

Xinhua - Agencies

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