President Biden must step in to prevent a ‘massacre’ in Cuba as dictator Miguel Diaz-Canel attempts to control the recent uprising in Havana that saw thousands take to the streets demanding freedom, the leader of a prominent Cuban exile organization in the US has warned.
Havana-born Dr. Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, who is based in Miami, said he believes Cubans are ‘very close to achieving freedom’ after the communist country saw one of the biggest displays of antigovernment sentiment in years over the weekend.
‘It’s a historic moment. The people have risen,’ he said in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com.
‘But I am fearful of repercussions. That’s why as a unified community we are asking President Biden to take the lead and protect the Cuban people, protect them from a bloodbath and bring this regime to an end.
‘Unless the international community acts as a friend of the Cuban people, and tells this regime to stop the repression, there is going to be a massacre.’
Gutierrez-Boronat, the head of the Cuban Democratic Directorate, spoke out as he shared video footage of Cuba’s fearsome Black Beret specialist force shooting at protestors in the streets.
Miami-based Dr. Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat (left) – the leader of the Cuban Democratic Directorate – has called on President Joe Biden to ‘take the lead’ in the Cuban people’s fight against tyrannical rule
In Havana, thousands of Cubans took part in rare protests on Sunday against the communist government, marching through a town chanting ‘Down with the dictatorship’ and ‘We want liberty’
Cubans are seen outside Havana’s Capitol during a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana
The footage also revealed a man and woman with bullet wounds, and other paramilitary-style officers hurling stones and using sticks to quell dissent.
Sunday’s protests were remarkable because thousands risked arrest to throng streets in capital Havana and 29 other cities in the biggest anti-government demonstrations on the Communist-run Caribbean island in decades.
Most were allowed to march, chanting ‘libertad’ – Spanish for freedom – and ‘down with the dictatorship’ without being seized, although there were arrests captured on film.
However the new video, said to have been taken on Sunday, showed authorities in some areas did launch a bloody crackdown on the protests over human rights abuses, soaring inflation, and food shortages.
The footage begins the Cuban president saying: ‘The order of combat has been given to the street revolutionaries.’
Gutierrez-Boronat told Dailymail.com: ‘Miguel Diaz-Canel has called for violence, he has called for a genocide against his own people.
‘Yesterday and today we are seeing the Cuban Gestapo, known as the Black Berets, on the streets shooting at the people, beating the people.’
He said he fears Russian and Chinese ‘advisors’ will put pressure on the regime for a bloodthirsty crackdown.
This would include further use of the Black Berets, who are trained by Cuba’s special forces with a mission to identify protest leaders ‘and destroy them,’ he added.
But Gutierrez-Boronat revealed that some regular police offers actually joined in on the protests.
‘On Sunday they were so overwhelmed by the massive national rebellion,’ he said.
‘They know how unpopular this regime is, they know the Cuban people want freedom. They know Cuban people believe they have a shot this time.’
Dad-of-three Ivan Hidalgo (left) was given three years in 2019 simply for wearing a pro-democracy t-shirt (pictured)
Pictured: A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel. In an interview with DailyMail.com, Gutierrez-Boronat warned of a bloody crackdown or even a ‘massacre’ of protesters if allies don’t take action
Riot police walk the streets after a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality, Havana on on Monday
Gutierrez-Boronat, who settled in the US in 1971, said the protests continued on Monday.
The regime cut the island’s internet to try to suppress the dissents, which had spread through social media.
However some footage released by SOSCuba showed demonstrators on the streets of Havana for a second day.
He said: ‘We are in constant contact with Cuba. The demonstrations are still taking place. On Monday we saw thousands marching on the national capital, shouting “liberty,” shouting “we want a new Cuba.”
‘There have always been uprisings. But they have been isolated and they have been put down by the regime because they weren’t in unison.
‘Now we have a unified national rebellion. It’s a massive spontaneous mass uprising to regain liberty We have a real chance for change.
‘There is some kind of repressive institution at every level of Cuban life. So the people have nothing to lose. For them, there is no going back.’
Miami-Dade County, home to 700,000 Cuban-born residents, has one of the largest Cuban populations in the state as a result of the Mariel boat lift in 1980 when 125,000 reached Florida after revolutionary leader Fidel Castro encouraged mass migration.
The significance of thousands of Cubans taking to the streets across the country can hardly be overstated. Riot police are pictured walking the streets after a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Arroyo Naranjo
Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s government in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality
On Sunday, about 5,000 protested in Miami’s Little Havana area – and a rally has been planned for Tuesday night in the city.
President Biden announced his support on Monday for the protests by saying the US ‘stands firmly’ with the people of Cuba and their ‘clarion call for freedom.’
‘The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves,’ Biden said.
Cuba is enduring its worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Some economists believe inflation could hit 900 per cent this year.
The country is also one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, with thousands of political prisoners languishing in its countless crumbling jails – often on trumped up charges. Police squads regularly snatch people off the street.
Even minor offenses can lead to hefty sentences.
Dad-of-three Ivan Hidalgo was given three years in 2019 simply for wearing a pro-democracy t-shirt, according to the Cuban Democratic Directorate, which also monitors political prisoners.
City of Miami mayor Francis Suarez also threw his support behind the Little Havana demonstration telling the crowd on Sunday: ‘Cubans are worthy and ready to rule themselves without tyranny.
‘It can end today and it must end today. The implications of this moment can mean freedom for millions of people in the hemisphere, from Nicaraguans and Venezuelans and so many more.’
Jorge Lieva (center) holds a sign calling on President Joe Biden to ‘help Cuba’ on Sunday
The Liberty Rally took place outside the Miami Cuban restaurant Cafe Versailles, a community hub
Cuban supporters waved flags and honked car horns in support of the Cuban people in Little Havana, Miami on Monday
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted: ‘Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana.
‘The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades & is now trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies.’
Twenty-four hours later, dictator Diaz-Canel blamed the United States for the most widespread unrest in Cuba for 30 years – even accusing Washington of sending in mercenaries to spark protests.
He blasted the ‘politics of economic asphyxiation’ towards the Communist state, in reference to the embargo established in 1962.
Diaz-Canel became president in 2019 and took over as all-powerful first secretary this April – a role that had only previously been held by Fidel Castro, who died in 2016, and his brother Raul, now 90.
‘Who is bothered by the regime, the alleged regime, in Cuba? Who is bothered by the Cuban political system, the way we do things? Not our people, not the majority of our people, because they are the ones who have built that system,’ Diaz-Canel said.
‘Who is bothered? The government of the United States, because they don’t see the virtues of this system of government in Cuba that is capable of working with all and working for all.’
Florida senator Marco Rubio has warned that Cuba will likely encourage mass migration to the US in response to the ongoing street protests.
Rubio – a Cuban-American who is the top Republican on the Senate committee for Latin American affairs – said Diaz-Canel’s government will encourage the exodus if it believes the US is backing protestors.
He tweeted: ‘Regime in Cuba will now threaten that a rafter or Mariel style crisis ‘is inevitable’ if the US doesn’t stop encouraging protests & return to Obama policy. We must not cave in to blackmail.’
He added President Biden ‘must warn them that encouraging mass migration will be considered a hostile action’.