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

President Biden speaks to reporters following a luncheon with Senate Democrats at the Capitol to discuss an infrastructure plan on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.
Greg Nash

President Biden 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 DeSantis (R) earlier Thursday sent a letter to Biden requesting federal assistance to provide internet access to people in Cuba. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has also made a similar request of Biden.

“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.

Tags Joe Biden Marco Rubio Ron DeSantis
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