Cuban Americans in Tampa join nationwide day of protest, demanding freedom for Cuba

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The fight for freedom in Cuba is not quieting down.

Although the Cuban government thwarted planned protests on the island Monday, that didn’t stop many Cuban Americans in the Tampa Bay area from making their voices heard.

Dozens packed the corner of Dale Mabry and Columbus Monday night, standing in solidarity with people on the island and demanding freedom and change from the more than 60-year-old dictatorship on the island.

This all comes months after anti-government protests in Cuba and in Tampa.

Danet Rodriguez was one of many people protesting along Dale Mabry. She was born in Cuba, and moved to the U.S. when she was 21.

“I have a lot of people in Cuba, because the entire country is my country and I keep them in my heart,” Rodriguez said. “The message has always been freedom, no end of the embargo, freedom.”

Rodriguez says the messages she’s received from family and friends are tough to hear.

“They’re very scared, they’ve been calling me and telling me they really feel they want to go outside to the streets, but the Cuban army has been taking the streets and it’s really hard when you feel you want to do it, but at the same time you’re scared of doing it because you know you can go to jail, because you know you will be repressed,” Rodriguez said.

On Monday, police and security prevented activists from leaving their homes in Cuba. After the Cuban government warned they wouldn’t allow the demonstrations to happen.

Governor Ron DeSantis and other leaders across the state are also showing their support for Cubans who are fighting for freedom. 

“The state of Florida stands behind those folks who want their voice heard, who want freedom,” DeSantis said.

Many like Rodriguez say the support is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough, and that’s why they’re making their voices heard.

“They deserve to be free,” Rodriguez said.

The protests are also happening as Cuba is reopening its borders to tourists after more than a year.  

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