Mexico Blames US Embargo For Cubans Woes

cubans-protest
Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality, Havana on July 12, 2021. (Photo by YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY, Mexico, Weds. July 14, 2021 (Reuters) – Latin American governments have split along ideological lines over widespread protests in Cuba, with Mexico’s president blaming the U.S. embargo for fomenting the unrest while Chile and Peru urged the Cuban government to allow pro-democracy protests.

Thousands of Cubans have participated in the biggest protests in decades on the Communist-run island, calling for President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down.

Cuban authorities detained some activists and have restricted access to social media and messaging platforms since Monday, according to global internet monitoring firm NetBlocks.

The governments of Chile and Peru on Tuesday both defended the rights of the Cuban people to protest.

“There is no justification to promote repressive measures that try to silence citizens who peacefully ask for greater freedom, timely and dignified health, and a better quality of life,” the Chilean government said in a statement.

Cuban authorities should “allow them to demonstrate freely and without intimidation,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Peruvian Foreign Ministry, in a Twitter message, called for international collaboration to cooperate with the people and the government of Cuba.

The government of Peru’s interim president, the centrist Francisco Sagasti, “supports the right of the Cuban people to demonstrate freely and peacefully and invokes the authorities to consider their requirements in a democratic spirit,” the ministry said.

The tone was different in Mexico. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said he was asking the Cuban government what sort of humanitarian aid would help as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador doubled down on his stance that a decades-old U.S. embargo was to blame for the unrest.

Ebrard said he was speaking with Cuban officials through Mexico’s leadership role in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a leftist regional body, after mass street protests on the island over shortages of basic goods.

Mexico’s top diplomat added that he spoke with his Cuban counterpart on Monday in a bid to establish communication and see “what can be done on behalf of the entire community.”

Speaking alongside Ebrard at a news conference, Lopez Obrador blamed the U.S. economic embargo for Cuba’s problems.

“They are going through a difficult situation that I basically attribute to the blockade,” he said.

One of the most prominent leftists in Latin America, the Mexican president has urged a peaceful resolution and offered to send medicines, vaccines and food if requested by Cuba.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana, Dave Graham and Cassandra Garrison in Mexico City and Marco Aquino in Lima Editing by Marguerita Choy and Leslie Adler)