SWFL takes to the streets to demonstrate solidarity with protesters in Cuba

Published: July 13, 2021 9:54 PM EDT
Updated: July 14, 2021 10:51 AM EDT

Thousands of protesters spread out across Southwest Florida in solidarity with Cuban citizens Tuesday from Port Charlotte to Naples. Protesters also gathered in Cape Coral, North Fort Myers, Fort Myers and Clewiston.

Major roads were blocked off for several hours Tuesday night as protesters walked the streets in the downtown areas of Fort Myers and Naples.

People were also protesting all day in Miami on Tuesday into the night on the Palmetto Expressway. The protests shut down part of the highway and backed up traffic for hours.

In Lee County, people also made their way down McGregor Boulevard. At one point, people were blocking traffic in the area.

Fort Myers Police Department warns it is illegal to obstruct roadways.

Protesters block I-75 in North Fort Myers

Florida Highway Patrol responds to a large group of protesters gathered together on I-75 in North Fort Myers Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Credit: Florida Highway Patrol.

Florida Highway Patrol responded to a large group of protesters gathered together on I-75 in North Fort Myers Tuesday night.

According to FHP, state troopers were on northbound I-75 at Bayshore Road managing traffic due to the protest.

The roadway was cleared just before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

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Around 1,000 protest for Cubans in Naples

Roughly 1,000 protesters blocked 5th Avenue in downtown Naples Tuesday evening.

“For other people suffering in Cuba, my parents today, they came at a very young age,” said Michael Gorta. “They always wanted to leave because they were basically prisoners over there.”

“We just happened to be on the street, and we decided to join. I am Puerto Rican, so I sympathize with my people,” said Wanda Liz. “The great thing about America is that these people have the right to do that.”

U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-FL, also attended the protest, saying he is proud of the people of Naples for standing up for something so important.

“This is the spirit of America, and it’s the spirit of the human race,” Donalds said. “Human beings always desire to be free and desire to have the fruit of their labors. I love to see this.”

All the protesters were home by nighttime Tuesday.

Naples Police Department was present the whole time, dealing with traffic while some of the roads were shut down.