LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Cuban Americans who call Louisville home gathered Tuesday to lend a voice to an international demand for change.

What You Need To Know

  • Some Cuban Americans in Louisville gathered Tuesday

  • Music and chants were part of the event

  • Cubans have taken to the street in unprecedented numbers

  • Those who gathered in Louisville wanted to send a message to friends 1,000 miles away

A group of a couple of hundred people played music and sang between pauses to chant in Spanish. Some painted the red, white and blue Cuban colors on their faces and draped Cuban flags over their shoulders.

They came to add their voices to the thousands of Cubans who have been marching through some of the island nation's most prominent streets, demanding aid from and change within a communist government that has had a strict rule for 62 years. 

Some in Cuba have taken to the streets to protest scarce food and electricity, among other grievances, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel denounced the protests and blamed the current conditions on U.S. sanctions.

"These are protests inspired by the harsh reality of everyday life in Cuba, not people in another country," said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. "Our approach continues to be governed by two principles: support for democracy and human rights."

In Louisville, those who gathered wanted to send a message to friends 1,000 miles away.

"We are asking our people to stay strong. We're here and we're supporting them," William Crusten said in Spanish. Fellow Geinis Torres translated his statements. "It's been way too long. It's been over 60 years and we just want them to be free."

Earlier in the day, a person crashed a truck into the Lousiville Metro Corrections building. The truck had the phrase “Patria y vida” painted on it, which means “Homeland and life.” It’s a rallying cry for Cuban protesters, but those at the Louisville protest made it clear they did not support the driver.

"We want to make sure people know that that is not us," Torres said. "We are peaceful people, we are here and we are talking for our people. That’s it. That’s all we want."

Multiple people interviewed by Spectrum News 1 in Louisville and at protests this week in Florida asked the U.S. government to step in and help their cause. Some wanted military action.

July 14 Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect that the group that gathered on Tuesday grew to a couple of hundred people later in the evening.