The Cuban American community is raising its voice in North Texas, holding a demonstration in Fort Worth for the island nation.
Cuba faces its worst economic crisis in decades, with residents facing food and medicine shortages.
Defiant Cubans took to the streets over the weekend to demand freedom and an end to 62 years of a communist regime.
The images brought hope and heartache for Cuban Americans in Dallas-Fort Worth.
“Helpless is the only feeling that I can think of,” said Tatiana Alvarez, who runs the Cubanos and Cubanitas DFW Cuban American Meetup group. “Why now? It’s because it’s gotten to the point where Cubans are dying. There’s no food. There’s no healthcare. There’s no medicine.”
Liliam Morin and her husband own Lola’s Cuban Food truck in Fort Worth.
She said she fled Cuba in 2014 and said there are chronic food shortages, power and internet blackouts, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Protests have also turned violent.
“They’re getting shot at and they are getting beat up. They’re disappearing,” Morin said.
Alvarez added that people are desperate and feel they have nothing to lose.
“It’s gotten to the point now where they’re dying anyway,” she said. “So, they’re going out onto the streets and saying, ‘If I’m going to die, then I’m going to give all I have left to try and see some good.'"
The two women said they were especially anxious about loved ones still on the island.
Morin said she hasn’t heard from any family members yet.
She said people in Cuba are faced with several obstacles, including the need to have a cell phone that is paid off and to download an app that is not always accessible.
“I’ve only heard from one,” said Alvarez of a cousin who’s managed to send messages on Facebook. “It’s kind of like, ‘Yeah, they’re shooting in the streets right now.'"
Both were cautiously optimistic the weekend uprising may be the turning point for the beleaguered nation.
Morin, however, is concerned desperate Cubans may risk their lives by fleeing the country by water.
“The government is probably going to encourage that, but we don’t feel like that’s a solution. That can’t happen,” she said. “They have to remain there because the world has to know what they are suffering.”
The two hope to raise awareness for #SOSCuba on social media, where reports from the ground are being shared in the U.S.
Tuesday's demonstration is from 5-7 p.m. at Lola’s Cuban Food truck at the corner of Henderson and Weatherford streets in Fort Worth.