Cuban government holds mass rally in Havana

A show of solidarity by Cuban leadership on Saturday, as thousands attended a government-organised rally in the capital Havana, including President Miguel Diaz-Canel and former President Raul Castro.

Many government supporters say they were there to defend the Cuban revolution.

That comes in the wake of unprecedented protests last week, as Cubans in towns across the country marched against power outages, widespread shortages of basic goods and the one-party system.

But while the communist-run government admitted to some shortcomings, it mostly blamed those protests on U.S.-backed 'counter-revolutionaries', which it says spread information against the government on social media - and is exploiting economic hardship caused by U.S. sanctions.

Diaz-Canel called on the U.S. to lift its trade embargo on the island nation, denouncing the blockade and what he calls U.S. aggression and terror.

He also called the rally no small matter as the country suffers from its worst outbreak since the start of the global health crisis.

With a state monopoly on telecommunications, information regarding the recent protests including the number of those detained has been spotty.

Exiled rights group Cubalex says as many as 450 have been detained, although some have reportedly already been released.

The government has not yet revealed an official tally.

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