Cuban YouTuber Dina Fernandez Taken Away By Security Forces While On Live TV
Update July 14, 2021
The protests in Cuba are highlighting the lack of access to basic goods like medicine, food, and other necessities. As the protests have been ongoing, images and videos have come out of Cuba showing the protesters and police response.
Dina Fernandez, a YouTube in Cuba known as Dina Stars, was in an interview on live TV when she was taken away.
Fernandez was speaking with Canal 4 in Spain when she interrupted the interview and let the anchor know that the state security forces were are her door. She left the screen and one of her friends moved the computer and tried to get audio from the interaction with Fernandez and the security forces.
Fernandez returned to the screen and told the host she was having to go with the authorities. As she left, she gave the host a chilling message.
“I hold the government responsible for anything that could happen to me,” Fernandez says. “I have to go.”
She added when asked if she was being detained: “I don’t know. They told me to come along with them.”
No one was seen on camera forcibly removing Fernandez from where she was.
Over the weekend, the hashtag #SOSCuba trended on social media. The hashtag was in reference to the unprecedented protests that took place in Cuba over the weekend.
“It is the most massive popular demonstration to protest the government that we have experienced in Cuba since ’59,” said Cuban activist Carolina Barrero to The New York Times. “What has happened is enormous.”
Cubans took to the streets to protest the country’s economic crisis–a crisis that has gotten much worse with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Cubans are angry at the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Some are frustrated at the constant power outages. Others are angry at the long lines at government-run grocery stores. Many of those stores only accept foreign currency that many don’t have access to. Others, still, are angry that they don’t have access to jobs that they were working before. Hospitality and tourism jobs have all but disappeared due to COVID-19.
“They are protesting the crisis, that there is no food or medicine, that you have to buy everything at the foreign currency stores, and on and on the list goes,” said a woman named Claudia Perez to Reuters.
In the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, Palma Soriano, and Havana, thousands of Cubans gathered, chanting “Freedom!”.
“This is no longer a question of freedom of expression; it’s a question of hunger,” said Adonis Milán to the New York Times. “People are hitting the street. They are asking for an end to this government, to one-party rule, to repression and the misery we have lived through for 60 years.”
While there was a large police presence in Havana, reports reveal that there were few arrests and only a few “scuffles”.
The Cuban government has responded to the mass protests by blaming the unrest on provocations from the United States.
The Cuban government blames the U.S. for crippling their economy through trade embargoes and by limiting tourism. They also say that the U.S. is manipulating Cubans through anti-communism social media campaigns.
“Cubans know perfectly well that the government of the United States is principally responsible for Cuba’s current situation,” wrote Cuba’s foreign ministry on Twitter. “Cuba and its streets belong to the revolutionaries.”
In a nationally televised address on Sunday afternoon, President Miguel Díaz-Canel implied that the protesters were either paid-off or manipulated by the American media.
He called on supporters of communism to take to the streets to counter-protest. “We are calling on all the revolutionaries in the country, all the Communists, to hit the streets wherever there is an effort to produce these provocations,” Diaz-Canel said. “Over our dead bodies. We are prepared to do anything.”
According to the New York Times, the Cuban government has now arrested key agitators–including prominent artists who “demanded airtime on national television.” The government has also allegedly cut off the internet and deployed anti-riot squads.