AKIPRESS.COM - Thousands of Cubans have joined the biggest protests for decades against the island's Communist government.
They marched in cities including the capital Havana, shouting, "Down with the dictatorship!", BBC reports.
In response, police used pepper spray and beat some of the demonstrators.
Cubans have been angered by the collapse of the economy, as well as by restrictions on civil liberties and the authorities' handling of the pandemic, with record infections in recent days.
The protesters were demanding a faster coronavirus vaccination program.
Thousands of pro-government supporters also took to the streets after the president went on television to urge them to defend the revolution - referring to the 1959 uprising which ushered in decades of Communist rule.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel said the protests were a provocation by mercenaries hired by the US to destabilise the country, and promised a "revolutionary response".
The top US diplomat for Latin America, Julie Chung, tweeted: "We are deeply concerned by 'calls to combat' in Cuba."