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Photo: Oliver Douliery/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday called on the Cuban government to "respect" the rights of its citizens to "use their voices without fear of government reprisal or violence."

Why it matters: The remarks come ahead of a protest by Cubans planned for Monday to demand greater political freedoms and the release of activists arrested in previous demonstrations.

What he's saying: "We urge the Cuban government to reject violence, and instead, embrace this historic opportunity to listen to the voices of their people," Blinken said in a statement.

  • "The United States stands with the people of Cuba," he added. "We commend their bravery and unwavering pursuit of democracy, prosperity and fundamental rights and freedoms."

Blinken also condemned the "intimidation tactics" employed by the Cuban government, adding that "the regime has denied permission for the protests ... and threatened dissenters with imprisonment."

The backdrop: In July, thousands of people took to the streets of Cuba to demand change in one of the largest demonstrations against the communist government in decades.

  • The Biden administration later imposed new sanctions against Cuban officials and entities for the Cuban government's harsh crackdown on the island-wide protests.

Go deeper

First day of Blinken's Africa tour marred by crackdown on protesters in Sudan

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) greets Intergovernmental Authority on Development Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu in Nairobi, Kenya, on Nov. 17. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

On the first day of his trip to Africa, Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the recent string of violent conflicts roiling the continent, even as the Sudanese government cracked down on pro-democracy protesters and Ethiopia's prime minister claimed a "sophisticated narrative war."

Why it matters: "Despite the grand gesture of American support for the continent signaled by ... Blinken’s trip, the developments illustrated the frustrating limits of U.S. diplomacy in a tumultuous region," the New York Times writes.

Updated 16 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."