EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – As the communist regime in Cuba pushes back against citizens complaining about lack of food, medicine, and electricity, at least one Cuban migrant in Juarez says it is time for a change.

Thousands of residents took to the streets in Havana and other cities on Sunday to air their complaints, demand greater freedom and calling for President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down. International news outlets report the government used tear gas to break up some protests and arrested dozens of demonstrators.

“These people are fighting, they’re tired, they’re just speaking up and trying to do the best they can with no violence. They’re obviously not fighting … they’re speaking and screaming, expressing the hunger and how tired they are of this control … not allowing them to better their lives, (wanting) them to stay where they are,” said Emilio Alejandro Plana, a Cuban citizen living in Juarez since being expelled from the United States.

Plana said he and his countrymen fled political oppression on the island. Many tried to join relatives in the United States but were sent back to Mexico through the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. Others newly arrived are waiting for the Biden administration to end Title 42 public-health expulsions and reopen the asylum system.

Groups like the Cuban American National Foundation, a Miami-based organization pushing for democracy and human rights on the island, are urging world leaders to protect peaceful demonstrators from reprisals from Diaz-Canel.

CNN on Tuesday reported 100 demonstrators remain jailed or are missing and that Diaz-Canel had called on supporters to physically confront protesters.

“(We) call on the international community to support the Cuban people and send a strong message to Diaz-Canel and his henchmen that bloodshed will not be tolerated,” the foundation said in a statement. “Those responsible for violence against the people should be held accountable.”

Plana said the Cuban regime has long repressed dissenters and pit residents against each other.

“These communists have controlled Cuba for too long and used the people against the people,” he said. “The communists are possibly trying to provide for the ones who are going to fight the protesters,” likely favoring them with food and other privileges while the opposition goes hungry.

Plana, an independent entrepreneur in Juarez’s market district, said the lack of food might be the spark to bring about change.

“They’re standing up a little stronger. They are uniting against the (oppression) they carry and they’re obviously hungry. When people are hungry, they’re going to come up stronger,” he said.

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