20:02 GMT28 July 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Some of those who participate in massive protests that have engulfed Cuba are paid by the United States to provoke unrest, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on 12 July.

    Diaz-Canel earlier called for his supporters to take to the streets after accusing the US and enemies of the Cuban Revolution of trying to destabilise the Caribbean nation following large-scale protests.

    "There is a group of people ... hired by the US government, paid indirectly through US government agencies to organize this kind of demonstrations," he told his supporters in an address.

    The Sunday protest was the biggest anti-government protest in recent years in Cuba. Thousands of people gathered to express dissatisfaction with what they believe are lack of freedom and degrading economic situation in the country. Some protesters demanded that free elections be held, local media reported.

    Protests took place in eight cities including the capital of Havana. Counter-marches of government and communist supporters took place in five cities following the call from the president to fight back. The president himself personally joined the marches in the San Antonio de los Banos municipality of Havana.

    In one of the cities, protesters and counter-demonstrators clashed and began to throw stones at one another. Protesters have also reportedly looted a store and turned over several cars. There were no reports of further incidents or people sustaining injuries.

    Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, protest, Cuba, US
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