Chicagoans with ties to Cuba react to demonstrations

CHICAGO (WLS) -- 90 Miles Cuban Cafe owner Alberto Gonzalez said he supports the anti-government demonstrations in Cuba.

"As a parent, as a son, as a brother I could only imagine what the Cuban people are going through seeing their families dying in front of them," he said.

Thousands of Cubans have been marching in Havana protesting food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis.

"It has reached a boiling point to the extent that people are coming out of covid which has been a very difficult year for everybody in the world. In the case of Cuba, it's also coupled with an economic crisis," said María de los Ángeles Torres, a professor of Latin America & Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

President Biden said today the U.S. stands with the Cuban people.

"The Cuban people are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime and I don't think we've seen anything like this protest in a long, long time, if quite frankly ever," he said.

U.S.-Cuba relations are at their lowest point in years. The sanctions imposed by the Trump administration remain in place under Biden. Cuba's president Miguel Diaz-Canel is blaming the economic crisis on the U.S. embargo. Some Chicagoans agree.

"President Biden has said he is in favor of supporting the Cuban people but I think the biggest support could by repealing those Trump sanctions," said Sarah Staggs with the Chicago Committee to Normalize Relations with Cuba.

But Gonzalez holds the Cuban government responsible for the conditions in the country.

"Last night I had nightmares and I thank my dad for the initiative to get us out of Cuban when he did," he said.
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