Biden says US may take steps to restore internet access in Cuba

Biden says US may take steps to restore internet access in Cuba
© Greg Nash

President BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE said Thursday that the United States is considering whether it can take steps to restore internet access in Cuba in the wake of protests against the government.

“They have cut off access to the internet. We are considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access,” Biden told reporters at a joint press conference on Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Florida asks Supreme Court to block CDC's limits on cruise ship industry Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event MORE (R) earlier Thursday sent a letter to Biden requesting federal assistance to provide internet access to people in Cuba. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioBipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers MORE (R-Fla.) has also made a similar request of Biden.

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“Technology exists to provide Internet access into Cuba remotely, using the innovation of American enterprise and the diverse industries here,” DeSantis wrote. “Similar to the American efforts to broadcast radio into the Soviet Union during the Cold War in Europe, the federal government has a history of supporting the dissemination of information into Cuba for the Cuban people through Radio & Televisión Martí, located in Miami.”

Cubans took to the streets over the weekend to protest against the island’s communist government amid a worsening economic crisis. Authorities blocked access to internet and telephone service in an apparent effort to stifle the mass demonstrations, which were being fueled by social media platforms.

Biden said Thursday that the government of Cuba had failed its citizens and rejected communism as a “failed system.”

“Communism is a failed system — universally failed system — and I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute, but that’s another story,” Biden said.

The Biden administration is currently reviewing the Trump-era Cuba policy, but it’s unclear when that review would be completed. Biden said that the U.S. is not currently considering sending remittances to Cuba because of the likelihood they would be confiscated by the government. He also said that the U.S. would be prepared to provide a “significant amount” COVID-19 vaccines to Cuba only if the U.S. were given assurances that an international organization would distribute vaccines on the ground.

Earlier this week, Biden expressed support for protesters in Cuba “bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights” and called on the Cuban government to listen to them.