(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Monday released a statement in solidarity with the thousands of Cubans who protested over the weekend about shortages and rising prices for food and medicine amid the coronavirus pandemic in what’s being called an unprecedented rejection of the nation’s government.

“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” Biden said in a statement.

“The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves,” he said.

Sunday’s protest was one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in Cuba in recent history and Biden has been called on to show support for the protesters.

Along with experiencing an economic crisis, the country is dealing with another deadly surge of COVID-19.

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