KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Demonstrations are turning deadly in Cuba amid calls for an end to the country's decades-old communist government.
According to NBC, Cubans are protesting over food and medicine shortages, high prices on basic essentials, and other grievances against the government.
Those protests have now stretched to the United States, with protesters supporting Cuban freedom.
Here in Knox County, one man said his family has been dreaming of a free Cuba for decades.
Oscar Decardenas owns a Cuban restaurant in Halls, called Halls Deli & Cuban Cafe.
East Tennesseeans pushing for Cuba's freedom
His parents came to the U.S. from Havana, Cuba, after the communist government took everything they owned.
He said this fight has been burning for years but now Cubans are fed up.
"The slogan in Cuba is we're so hungry we swallowed our fear," Decardenas said. My father fought in the Bay of Pigs fighting for a free Cuba and he died several years ago without seeing his dream so now I hope his dream will finally be realized."
Decardenas said there is a large Cuban community in East Tennessee and many of them look forward to the day they can visit loved ones in Cuba.
"I really do hope so because I'd like to see the country where my parents came from," Decardenas added.
Decardenas has never been to Cuba, and he says he will not go until it's free.
"Really praying and putting in God's hands that this is it, that we will be able to travel to a free Cuba because I've never been there and I refuse to go until it's 100% free," he added.
Marlen Balido and her daughter, Vanessa Zubizarreta, organized the event.
"That’s why we ask all Latinos, doesn’t matter if you’re not Cuban, from anywhere around the world…it’s one voice, we are one, Latin America is suffering," Balido said. Enough of exodus, of genocide, like our President now in Cuba, the genocide he’s committing, because Cuba doesn’t have anything to defend itself."
One of the attendees, Guillermo Espinosa, told 10News that he was a political prisoner in Cuba and that was tortured and humiliated:
"I was a political prisoner who was tortured...I was humiliated in Cuba's political prisons," Espinosa said.
Zubizarreta expressed they will continue to protest and support Cubans on the island.
"We are not going to stop until we see the freedom for our brothers/sisters," she said.