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Cuban-Americans Use Social Media to Advocate, Educate, Amid Protests on the Island

MIACubaProtest_07262021.jpeg
PEDRO PORTAL
/
Miami Herald
Hundreds of people gathered outside Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana on July 26 in solidarity with the demonstrations in Cuba protesting against the communist regime.

As protests surrounding Cuba continue, some Cuban-Americans are taking to their social media to share content from Cubans on the island.

During the ongoing protests, Maria Victoria Paredes has taken to her Instagram to amplify voices from Cubans on the island. She is a Cuban-American from Miami who has family in Cuba.

“Cubans on the island are valiantly demanding freedom. They’re writing it on signs, they’re shouting it at the top of their lungs, they’re singing it in songs,” Paredes said.

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Paredes said it is clear what Cubans are asking for.

“They’re asking for freedom from the dictatorship. They’re asking for the right to protest peacefully without being beat, shot at, jailed, detained, disappeared,” Paredes said. “They’re asking for the right to dissent — the right to criticize their government openly in order to make it better.”

She added that she has been disappointed by political discourse in the U.S. about Cuba.

“Political discourse in the United States right now on Cuba is an embarrassment,” said Paredes. “There’s no other way to describe it. Both on the left and on the right.”

It has also been frustrating, Paredes said, to see the way some people on the political left have suggested Cubans don’t understand the U.S. embargo.

“Cubans on the island, to be clear, are very well aware of what the embargo is,” she said. “And Cubans on the island have been saying, ‘Yes, you know, the embargo probably is a disservice to Cubans and without a doubt makes life in Cuba harder, but what we’re asking for is more than that.’”

On the other hand, Paredes argues that the political right has been using the Cuban movement to advocate for their own causes.

“It’s been extremely disappointing to see people at these protests for Cuba with Trump shirts and Trump flags. This is not about Donald Trump,” she said. “This is not about U.S. politics and your political agenda. It’s about Cubans on the ground.”

After much difficulty, Paredes was able to contact her family on the island. She said their conversation consisted of her family relaying information about the protests “in a very factual way,” and not opining on the situation at hand.

“Of course that’s because there’s still so much fear on the island about retaliation, especially since so many people depend on the state for their livelihood, given that anyone who’s employed is employed in some way tied to the state,” said Paredes. “That of course curbs how much people are willing to say, especially when there’s so much distrust of even telephone lines and communication lines.”