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More than 50 people from Tampa Bay headed DC to participate in a national protest for Cuba's freedom

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Posted at 11:26 PM, Jul 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 09:11:13-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A rally call for Cuba’s freedom went out across the country and now thousands are heading to Washington DC to protest Monday, including a bus of more than 50 people from Tampa Bay.

One of those people is Cuban immigrant Serge Menedez.

“I came from cuba when I was ten years old. I'm a victim of the Castro regime,” Menedez explained, “I have friends of mine from that they're missing. I have a friend of mine that can't even walk and they put him in jail. And I mean, this is horrible.”

Another Cuban man named Rene Montescdeoca answered questions in Cuban Spanish, a translator for him said, “We have been over persecution, over killings, over people in jail people in prison, being tortured being… they disappeared. They come in the middle of the night to the houses and we never see them back. You know, this has been happening for the past 62 years but now it’s more.”

On the bus, a man shouted, “Joe Biden, we need your help!”

“I'm calling on President Biden to acknowledge to the international world to the OES, to the UN, to the, to the European pact, where we are members of, that Cuba is a dictatorship and it should not be allowed to continue violating the human rights and the liberty of the oppressed people of Cuba,” said an organizer and Cuban immigrant Jorge Astorquiza.

Astorquiza explained that they don’t want a US intervention. They want America, as a world leader, to join with other countries and help Cuba.

“I can't make the trip but I felt it was important to come and and give them a farewell,” said Melissa Morgado who led chants before the departure, “Let them know that we support our local community in their quest to go to Washington and rally for support for support for Cuba, not in a way of an embargo, the Cuban people have been suffering for many years, with lack of medicine and lack of health care what the people of Cuba need is freedom.”

Morgado was also a high school teacher of Menendez and said she is so proud to see him board the bus.

“It's not about the one party or another, it's about that Cuba has been friends with the United States for a long long time... and we just want the new government to recognize that we are oppressed, that we are suffering, and we want to change,” Montesdeoca’s translator said.

The crew took said a quick prayer for peace and purpose before heading out.
This is just one of dozens of buses driving out of Florida to the protest. Astorquiza said they had 25 leaving Miami.

“We want the US, and not just the US, but the entire, entire world community, the global community to support our people,” Menedez exclaimed. “There’s a holocaust happening in Cuba.”

The bus will drive through the night and get to DC in Monday morning where they will join the protest and head back to Tampa in the evening.