Since July 11, the eyes of the world have been focused on Cuba. Black Cubans began protesting in the streets, calling for major policy changes in the communist nation.

“Protesting in Cuba is not easy. Repercussions are usually swift and fast,” said Ann Louise Bardach, a prize-winning author, who is known to many as the “go-to journalist on things Cuban and Miami.”

Some of the root causes of the uprising are Cubans are hungry and the growing COVID pandemic, Bardach said.

“The vast majority of people protesting were people of color,” Bardach added. “Racism is alive and well in Cuba.”

Bardach talked about why thousands of people took to the streets in 40 cities and towns across the island of Cuba during the “Por Amor Conversation with Ann Louise Bardach” on July 23. More than 100 people participated in the virtual event, which was held in association with the African Marketplace and Cultural Faire in Los Angeles.

Bardach said there was no specific leader but the protests were very serious and began spreading via the internet before the government shut down the internet for Cubans.

There have been pro-government rallies in response, but Bardach said the anti-government sentiment still lingers, especially in South Florida.

“We don’t know the exact number of people that were arrested,” Bardach shared. She said it could be hundreds or even thousands of people who were apprehended.

From Havana, Cuba, to Washington D.C., to Miami, Fla., Cubans are rallying for change and hoping that improvements are around the corner when it comes to U.S. foreign relations with Cuba under President Biden’s administration. However, Bardach points out that President Joe Biden’s first priority is maintaining a positive relationship with Cuban-Americans who are democrats.

When it comes to the pandemic, Adolfo Nodal with Project Por Amor said an easy way to support Cuba is by donating syringes to Global Health Partners’ Saving Lives Campaign at ghpartners.org/syringes4cuba so that more people can be vaccinated against COVID-19 sooner on the island.

Nodal said 76 percent of Cubans are Black, whose ancestors came to the island years ago as a part of the African Diaspora.

What pathways lie ahead was also discussed by Bardach, including the possibility of the U.S. government providing food and vaccines for Cubans.

“We are at a watershed moment. This is something that isn’t going to be easily suppressed,” Bardach said. “This is something that is going to have to be addressed.”

The current events could also impact the relationship between Afro-Cubans and African-Americans.

“Black Lives Matter needs to realize that Cuba is a country where the majority of people are people of color,” Bardach explained. “I think what the Biden administration can do is focus on humanitarian issues. We will help you with food and vaccines.”

Meanwhile, Project Por Amor is supporting The African Marketplace Afro-Cuban Exploration Tour in Havana and Matanzas with James Burks, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 10-25, 2022.