President Joe Biden will host Cuban American leaders at the White House on Friday to discuss the recent historic protests in the Caribbean nation and his administration’s response, including new sanctions on Cuban leaders and establishing internet access for Cubans.
Those in attendance will include political and community leaders as well as artists.
Thousands of Cubans throughout the island took to the streets July 11 and showed a level of dissent not seen since the 1959 revolution. The protests were sparked by the island’s severe economic crisis, including shortages in food and medicine, as well as rolling blackouts, but also included calls for “libertad” or “freedom.” Many chanted “we want change” and “down with the dictatorship.”
The protests ended with security forces and civilians with sticks beating protesters and arrests.
Cuba’s government has largely blamed the United States and the decadeslong economic embargo for the protests and said demonstrators were also incited on social media.
Over 700 people are being held by the government, according to human rights organizations. There have been reports of some people being held incommunicado and others receiving summary trials, which Cuba has denied.