SAN DIEGO — When Havana Grill owner Sandra Cardet watched the protests erupting in her home country, she was overjoyed.
“It's about time. I'm so excited to see the Cuban people actually take to the streets and trying to do something,” said Cardet, who left Cuba in 1956 with her family, who owned a restaurant there.
President Joe Biden said the U.S. stands with Cuban protesters and calls on the Cuban government to refrain from violence or attempts to silence their voice.
"I don't think we've seen anything like this protest in a long, long time," Biden said Monday.
Protesters shouted "Libertad! Libertad!" over the weekend as thousands of Cubans took to the streets against the communist government, triggered by food shortages, rising prices, and the lack of their government's response to increasing COVID-19 cases.
“The government bragged about coming up with their own vaccine, but the people are not even vaccinated. The people do not even have aspirin. They do not have soap, they don't have alcohol, they don't have bleach and don't have anything with which to disinfect,” Cardet said.
Cuban authorities have blocked access to social media sites including Facebook and Instagram.
Dozens of people have been reportedly arrested in the protests, and many demonstrators were also injured in clashes with police and pro-government activists.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed Cuba's economic turmoil on the U.S. trade embargo, but the Biden administration pushed back on any notion the U.S. was responsible for the protests.
Local Cubans like Cardet remain hopeful.
"My hope is that the Cuban people are actually able to experience democracy. I think the Cubans are fed up now. This is a fulfillment of a 60-year dream for me to bring down the communist regime,” Cardet said.
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