Nearly a year after marches took over the streets in cities across the U.S. and Cuba protesting the Cuban government, human right activists gathered on Saturday at the Washington Monument once again to demand the end of the Cuban dictatorship. They conveyed one clear and loud message: “Freedom for Cuba.”
Cuban Freedom March movement organizer Alian Collazo, who traveled from South Florida, migrated from Cuba to the U.S. with his mom when he was 8 years old. He says that experience led him to become a human rights activist.
“Being here today means that we are continuing to not forget those who have, for the past 63 years in Cuba, been going out [and] asking for a different system of governance for a democratic,” Collazo said. “Especially those thousands of Cubans that went out and risked it all last year in the streets of Cuba on July 11 demanding for freedom.”
Marching with signs showing faces of members of the opposition imprisoned in Cuba and waving Cuban flags, the activists claim this is not about being a Republican or a Democrat, but about people’s rights.
“It just verbalizing the human rights issues that we are seeing in Cuba happen every day,” said Stephanie Cepero, who traveled from South Florida to join the rally in Washington, D.C. “I think that there’s not enough pressure, not only from the U.S., but from other countries.”
By organizing these marches, Collazo hopes to bring awareness of the needs of the Cuban people. “We Cubans ask for freedom. Freedom for good healthcare. Freedom for education…freedom to live and have opportunities in our own country, freedom to elect those who represent us, which we have not had the freedom to do for the past 63 years.”
The “Cuban Freedom March” movement was joined by Venezuelan and Bolivian activists who also ask the U.S. government to do more to work for freedom in those countries.
“They [U.S. government] should end all commercial and political negotiations with Cuba,” said Reynier Cedeno, a Cuban activist who lives in Washington, D.C.
The activists say the rallies will continue to take place across the country.