▶ Watch Video: Biden: U.S. “stands firmly” with people of Cuba amid rare anti-government protests

President Biden is expressing support for demonstrators in Cuba after thousands of people took to the streets in one of the country’s biggest protests in decades.

“The U.S. stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence in their attempt to silence the voices of the people of Cuba,” he said.

The comments came a day after thousands of Cubans poured into the streets protesting against the communist government, triggered by food shortages, rising prices, and the government’s response to rising COVID-19 infections.

Thousands in Miami have joined in solidarity. Havana-born Damir Perez came to Florida a decade ago and says he’s optimistic the protests will fuel change.

“We’ve been fighting this fight for a long time now. We have never seen this in 62 years of dictatorship in Cuba,” Perez told CBS News’ Manuel Bojorquez.

But in Havana, it was mostly quiet again by Monday. Police were seen patrolling the streets. Cuban authorities appear to have blocked access to social media sites like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Dozens of people have been reportedly arrested in the protests, including journalists.

Many demonstrators were also injured in clashes with police and pro-government activists. President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed Cuba’s economic turmoil on the U.S. trade embargo.

“These are protests inspired by the harsh reality of everyday life in Cuba, not people in another country,” White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki said.

One indication of the mounting discontent in Cuba: an uptick in the number of rafts and boats of migrants arriving here from Cuba, despite no longer having a clear pathway to stay in this country.