HAVANA (CBSMiami/AP) – Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and former president Raul Castro rallied tens of thousands of supporters in the streets of Havana nearly a week after they were stunned by the most widespread protests in decades.

Last Sunday, July 11th, thousands of Cubans took to the streets expressing anger over long lines and shortages of food and medicines, as well as repeated electricity outages. Some also demanded quicker vaccinations against COVID-19. But there were also calls for political change in a country governed by the Communist Party for six decades.

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At Saturday’s rally, Diaz-Canel made an unusually impassioned speech blaming the unrest on the U.S. and its economic embargo, calling “the blockade, aggression and terror.”

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Diaz-Canel called on the United States to lift its blockade on the island nation.

The Cuban government has said information that has spread on social media and messaging apps against Havana was part of a broader U.S.-backed attempt by counter-revolutionaries to destabilize the country.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBSMiami.com Team