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Cubans in Nova Scotia devastated for families, friends living in country

Click to play video: 'Cuban-Canadians in fear of speaking out' Cuban-Canadians in fear of speaking out
Protests have broken out all across Cuba demanding a change in government. With COVID-19 cases increasing and hospitals at capacity, the country is in crisis. Speaking out has gotten some killed. Cuban Canadian are in fear of speaking out, but say it is now more important than ever. Amber Fryday reports. – Jul 15, 2021

In a rare display of protest in the island nation, demonstrations have broken out all across Cuba.

Thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets, chanting “freedom” and “yes, we can” — calling for an end to a 62-year communist regime.

Cubans living in Nova Scotia are proud of their people for standing up and fighting against the country, which is ruled by the military. Yoandri Reyes also has concerns about speaking out about the regime in fear for his family.

Read more: Cuban president admits government failings but urges protesters to not be ‘hateful’

He isn’t letting that stop him.

“More important than family is freedom. The freedom of my people is more important than my family. And it hurts, it really hurts.” said Reyes.

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Reyes, who has a two-year old son, Mateo, says he was hoping to return to Cuba in the near future, however, he now believes he will be blacklisted.

The deepening economic crisis has had a blunt impact during the pandemic. There have been food shortages, severe blackouts, lack of medication and a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Reyes’ grandfathers eye is currently swollen shut — something that can be cured with basic antibiotics. His Grandmother, a diabetic, is in dire need of insulin. Even the most basic medical supplies and equipment are a scarcity.

Read more: Cuba protest: 1 dead after clash with police

The country, which gives its citizens food rations, has now introduced supermarkets.

“But, you have to pay in American dollars. We don’t get paid in American dollars in Cuba.” said Reyes.

Loly Crowley, who fled Cuba when she was 15, has been living in Nova Scotia for 54 years.

“Unless I have access to foreign currency, to be able to buy into these supermarkets, prices and good are out of reach for the average Cuban,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose father was a friend to Fidel Castro, said he would press for greater liberty in the country but in the eyes of Reyes and Crowley, he has turned his back. They say the Canadian government needs to do more.

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“He hasn’t said anything. He condoned other places that people are wanting to change for a democratic government and he’s been silent about Cuba…Why?” said Crowley.

“For 62 years, we had to say homeland or death. Now, Cubans are chanting homeland and life. Padre y vida.” said Reyes

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