On Sunday July 11, Cuba was rocked by an unprecedented public display of opposition as thousands of people joined nationwide demonstrations against the government. The largely spontaneous outbursts underscored the depth of Cuba’s social and economic crisis and pose a huge challenge to President Miguel Diaz-Canel and the ruling Communist Party. They have also forced the issue of Cuba to the top of U.S. President Joe Biden’s agenda. 

The first demonstration began that morning in a park outside the Catholic Church of San Antonio de los Banos, a small town on the outskirts of Havana. By prior arrangement, several dozen people gathered to chant anti-government slogans and exhort onlookers. When they began marching, the demonstrators numbered fewer than a hundred, but as they paraded through the streets, chanting and stopping occasionally for speeches, they beckoned their curious neighbors to join them. People joined in by…

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