US calls for calm in Cuba, concerned by images of violence

Police cars are seen overturned in the street after a demonstration against Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, on July 11, 2021.
Police cars are seen overturned in the street after a demonstration against Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, on July 11, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US State Department on Tuesday (July 13) called for calm in Cuba and said it was concerned by images of violence it had seen in the past few days.

"We call for calm and we condemn any violence against those protesting peacefully, and we equally call on the Cuban government to release anyone detained for peaceful protest," State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular news briefing.

Price said the United States was always considering options that would allow it to support Cuban people and called on the Havana government to demonstrate restraint and open all means of communication, both online and offline.

Global internet monitoring firm NetBlocks said on Tuesday that Cuba has restricted access to social media and messaging platforms including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram since Monday, amid widespread anti-government protests.

Thousands of Cubans joined demonstrations in cities and towns throughout the country on Sunday to protest Cuba's economic crisis and handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with some calling for an end to communism.

The government has said the demonstrations were orchestrated by US-financed counter-revolutionaries, manipulating frustration with an economic crisis that it says has been largely caused by the decades-old US trade embargo.