Cuba Protests US Comments Following Protests Against Power Blackouts, Food Shortages

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba's government on Monday protested as interventionist comments from the U.S. Embassy on the island following demonstrations against power blackouts and food shortages by hundreds of people in eastern Cuba.

Cuba's Foreign Ministry delivered a note expressing the complaint to the chargé d'affaires at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, Benjamin Ziff.

On Sunday, protesters took to the streets in the eastern city of Santiago decrying power outages lasting up to eight hours and shortages of food. State media confirmed the protests in Santiago, while the U.S. Embassy in Havana said there were also reports of protests in a number of other provinces across the island.

Videos showing people chanting "electricity and food" were quickly shared by Cubans on and off the island on platforms like X and Facebook. A nongovernmental human rights group that monitors Cuba said there had been at least three arrests.

The U.S. Embassy urged the Cuban government to respect the protests in a post on its Facebook page.

"We urge the Cuban government to respect the human rights of the protesters and attend to the legitimate needs of the Cuban people," it said.

On Monday, Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío, speaking to The Associated Press, called the comments "disrespectful" and an "open interference is Cuba's domestic affairs."

"It was also cynical, as we said publicly, and hypocritical because it was referring to issues that are occurring in Cuba in which there's an import and responsibility from the U.S. government," said Fernández de Cossío, referring to the longstanding U.S. embargo on the island.

Cuba is facing one of the worst economic and energy crises in its history. Waves of blackouts have grown worse in recent weeks, adding to frustrations over food shortages and inflation that have made it increasingly difficult to make ends meet on the communist-governed island. Hundreds of thousands of people have migrated, with many headed to the United States.