14ymedio, Havana, December 4, 2020 — A young man who was peacefully protesting on San Rafael Street in central Havana on Friday afternoon garnered solidarity from numerous passers-by on the popular pedestrian thoroughfare. When the police arrested the protester, there were shouts of “leave him alone” and “thugs.”
He was carrying a handmade cardboard sign that read, “Freedom. Down with repression. #Free-Denis [Solis].” Several people took note, recorded the moment and posted a video on social media that went viral within minutes.
On the recording the protester can also be heard saying, “Freedom, down with the dictatorship.” Some of those present expressed support by repeating “Down!” As he walked back and forth in the street, holding the sign aloft so that it could be easily read by everyone, several bystanders said that the young man “is right.”
In less than a minute several uniformed police arrived and arrested the protester, who began shouting, “Freedom!” In the video a chorus of voices can be heard shouting the same word as well as, “Thugs. You’re all thugs,” “Let him go,” “Down with the dictatorship” and “Oppressors.”
Several women attacked the police officers while the young man was being arrested. In the video they can be seen hitting and struggling with the police for a few seconds.
Click here to see video -> https://t.co/17ivgS64iK
— 14ymedio (@14ymedio) December 4, 2020
The protest occurred a few yards from La Arcada, one of the stores in the Cuban capital that sells groceries for hard currency. Stores where items such as food and personal hygiene products can only be purchased in “freely convertible currency” have been been subject to heavy criticism from Cubans.
Near the location where the young man was protesting is another business selling cleaning and personal hygiene products, many of which cannot be found on shelves of stores where customers can pay with Cuban pesos. This monetary apartheid, as many refer to it, has led to calls for street protests to demand that these stores be closed.
The street, a pedestrian boulevard that connects Central Havana with Old Havana, is lined with stores, businesses and restaurants. Because of its proximity to the part of the city most popular with tourists, there is often a heavy police presence, which has increased throughout the city in the last week.
One of the most popular wifi hotspots in the Cuban capital is located at the corner of San Rafael and Galiano streets, a factor that contributed to the widespread dissemination of videos of the incident that afternoon. Some images were also posted directly from witnesses’ mobile phones.
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