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Thousands of people protesting on the streets of Cuba: What you need to know

Chanting “we are not afraid,” thousands of Cubans took to the streets Sunday, on Havana's Malecon promenade and elsewhere, to demand the end of the communist dictatorship.

The COVID crisis has only exacerbated the unrest on the island nation, which is why protesters also called for food and vaccines in one of biggest antigovernmental demonstrations in memory.

Many young people took part in the afternoon protest in Havana, the capital, which disrupted the city traffic until cops moved in after several hours and ended the march when a few protesters threw rocks.

Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, along with a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Picture courtesy: Al Dia

Police initially trailed behind as protesters chanted "Freedom," "Enough" and "Unite." One motorcyclist pulled out a U.S. flag, but it was snatched from him by others.

"We are fed up with the queues, the shortage. That's why I'm here!" one middle-age protester told The Associated Press. He rejected to identify himself for fear of being arrested later. “We’re claiming our rights for the first time!” said another demonstrator.

Protesters who packed Southwest Eighth Street demanded the basic necessities for their families and friends in Cuba. They said those in the island have suffered for a long time. “It’s a dictatorship. No medicine, no food, no freedom, no nothing” said the demonstrator.

Videos uploaded to social media appeared to show other protests in a handful of cities and towns across the island.

In some of the videos, people shouted they "weren't afraid" or that they wanted liberty or access to coronavirus vaccines.

The already struggling Cuban economy has been hit hard as tourism and good imports have dropped steeply during the pandemic.

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