Protests break out as Cuba experiences one of the worst economic and energy crises in its history.

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Protests continued this week in Cuba against one of the worst economic and energy crises the island has ever seen, as food shortages and power cuts push the country to the “verge of collapse.”

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told X on Tuesday that the dire situation was due to Cuba's long-standing Marxist policies.

“The reason Cuba is on the brink of collapse is that Marxism still leads to hunger, poverty and shortages,” Rubio said.

Demonstration in Cuba

Protesters take to the streets of Cuba against food and electricity shortages, March 17, 2024. (Reuters)

PROTESTS Erupt IN SANTIAGO FOLLOWING POWER OUTAGES AND FOOD SHORTAGES AS CUBA FACES ECONOMIC CRISIS

The senator, a staunch critic of the Cuban regime, used social media to push back against accusations made by Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío, who suggested in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that food shortages were due to food shortages. to long-standing US embargoes.

Fernández de Cossío accused the United States of “open interference” [in] “Cuba's internal affairs,” after the State Department on Monday called on Havana to respect the protesters and “take care of the legitimate needs of the Cuban people.”

“It was also cynical, as we said publicly, and hypocritical because it referred to problems that are occurring in Cuba and in which there is importance and responsibility on the part of the American government,” Fernández de Cossío said, calling the comments “disrespectful.”

Demonstration in Cuba

Dulce Diaz, center, and her brother Carlos Diaz, left, demonstrate, Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, as people gathered in support of anti-government protests in Cuba. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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The United States has imposed trade and financial embargoes against Cuba since the early 1960s, although some exceptions allow the export of food products to the island nation provided they are used in the private sector and not by the government.

“There is no U.S. food embargo on Cuba,” Rubio reiterated Tuesday. “Last year, Cuba imported more than $300 million worth of food and products from the United States.”

Critics of the ongoing embargoes point to economic sanctions reinstated under the Trump administration, soaring food prices and the inability of Americans to travel to Cuba as factors that have exacerbated energy and food shortages.

The State Department on Tuesday reiterated its position on the ongoing protests and said it continues to monitor the situation “closely.”

Government supporters march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, July 11, 2021. Hundreds of government supporters took to the streets as hundreds of people protested persistent food shortages and high food prices.  (AP Photo/Ismaël Francisco)

Government supporters march in Havana on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Hundreds of government supporters took to the streets while hundreds of people protested against persistent food shortages and high food prices. (AP Photo/Ismaël Francisco)

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A woman and a boy try to hitch a ride during a planned power outage in Bauta, Cuba, Monday, March 18, 2024. The island is facing an energy crisis, with waves of power outages getting worse these last weeks. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

“Protests are taking place in several cities across Cuba demanding electricity, food and fundamental freedoms. We urge the Cuban government to refrain from violence and unjust detention and call on the authorities to respect the right to assembly peace of Cuban citizens.” deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters.

“We stand with the Cuban people and continue to support their demands for human rights, freedom, prosperity and a more dignified future,” he added.

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