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Florida Republicans call on Biden to ‘step up’ in wake of Cuba protest

A trio of Florida Republicans led by Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the Biden administration Wednesday, saying it is not doing enough to help the Cuban people following protests against Havana’s Communist regime last week.

During an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity” from Miami’s Versailles Restaurant, DeSantis called on Biden to “step up and be on the side of freedom.” The governor repeated his insistence that the White House help provide internet access on the island after the Cuban government shut down social media sites at the height of the protests.

“The internet access is something we have the capability of doing. We have companies in the US that want to do it, but they need the OK of the federal government,” DeSantis said. “He [Biden] has it within his authority to do that. He can make it happen, and if he’s willing to do that, I think it would make a positive difference.

“As it stands now, he’s basically just sitting there doing nothing,” the governor added. “He’s leaving these folks out to dry, and what’s gonna end up happening, if they don’t get any type of assistance, is the regime will continue to clamp down, and they’ll eventually stamp this out and then they’ll remain even stronger in power, and that will be a huge blow to the cause of freedom.”

Cubans are seen outside of Havana's Capitol in a demonstration against their government on July 11, 2021.
Cubans are seen outside of Havana’s Capitol in a demonstration against their government on July 11, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

Cubans took to the streets of Havana and other cities across the island on July 11 to demand an end to 62 years of Communist rule in the biggest protests in nearly three decades. Hundreds have been detained in the subsequent crackdown. The Cuban government has acknowledged the death of one protester, but opposition sources say the number is higher.

Last week, Biden described Cuba as a “failed state” and communism as a “universally failed system” and added that his administration was “considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate” internet access on the island.

President Joe Biden released a statement during protests, which called on the regime in Cuba to "hear their people."
President Joe Biden released a statement during protests, which called on the regime in Cuba to “hear their people.”
AFP via Getty Images

However, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), accused Biden of refusing to meet with them to discuss next steps.

“We’re very frustrated. We are very upset, because we have called respectfully and we have told the Biden administration this has nothing to do with political parties,” Salazar, whose district includes Miami’s Little Havana, told host Sean Hannity. “He will not meet with us.”

“We’ve asked for meetings,” Rubio concurred. “It hasn’t happened so far.”

Salazar charged that Biden “is not paying attention to those people that are screaming on the streets of Havana, ‘Libertad!’ They’re not saying ‘Down with the embargo’ or ‘We want more vaccines’ or ‘We want more food. No, they’re saying ‘we want freedom’ … The Biden administration needs to pay attention to us.”

Rubio went on to suggest that addressing the situation in Cuba “is not a priority” for the White House.

“You have to understand, there’s a segment of his voting base that actually thinks the regime is good, that actually brags about the regime,” the senator said. “People that openly say it. I mean, the Black Lives Matter Foundation said it. And I said, ‘That’s great. My office will help the Black Lives Matter Foundation immigrate to Cuba.’”

Despite the ongoing crackdown, Rubio insisted that the Communist government “has been mortally wounded. It’s lost its legitimacy.

“I’m not telling you it’s gonna be quick and it’s gonna be easy, but it’s a dying animal and we need to do everything we can to expedite its passing.”

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