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3 arrested after attempting to protest Cuba on I-275

Cuban-Americans rally in Tampa to support homeland in crisis
Posted at 2:27 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 14:57:59-04

TAMPA, Fla. (WTXL) — Residents in Tampa with roots in Cuba say the time has come for change.

During rush hour on Tuesday, protesters blocked North Dale Mabry, near Raymond James Stadium, in West Tampa demanding help for Cuba from the U.S.

The Florida Highway Patrol said a trooper was hurt when a crowd of people tried to enter Interstate 275 on Tuesday.

Wednesday, FHP said the trooper suffered a broken ankle and lacerations to his arms and face while helping Tampa officers during an arrest.

A short time later, protesters were near Dale Mabry and I-275.

A few of them attempted to march on the exit ramp of I-275 but The Tampa Police Department assisted the Florida Highway and Patrol in redirecting the crowd back off. According to TPD, three people were taken into custody on several charges including battery on LEO.

"The Tampa Police Department continues to support everyone's 1st Amendment right for free speech. We will continue to work with groups who want to have their voices heard in a safe and secure manner, " TPD said in a press release.

Two of those individuals, 30-year-old Julian Rodriguez-Rodriguez and 39-year-old Maikel Vasquez-Pico, were charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. The third suspect was identified as 34-year-old Evelio Ramirez-Carrasco.

Tampa has the third-largest Cuban population in the United States.

There have been reports of mass arrests as Cuba’s President blames U.S. trade sanctions for its problems.

But those here in Tampa with roots in Cuba say the time has come for change, and some say that includes the U.S. lifting sanctions.

“If we eased up a bit and allowed them to import all kinds of food products and so forth and if we would Import their tobacco and all of the tropical fruits that for so many years we’ve imported, it would help the people instead of the government,” said Michael Sierra.

“They have no food. They have no medicine. They can’t rent houses. They can’t buy anything on credit. They are really suffering,” said Angel Farfante.

Generations have lived under the communist regime, and supporters say they are hopeful change will happen without violence.

“All the families here in Tampa who have family there and have been suffering for so long. They want to show support. And they are filming this and sending it to social media so they can see it over there. They are calling on the phone. They are not only worried, but they are excited because they know that the moment has come,” said Rafael Pizano.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor released a video supporting Tampa’s Cuban community, saying the city stands in solidarity with the freedom movement.

The mayor said Cubans helped build Tampa, and the city cares deeply for the county’s future.