DeSantis calls on Biden to provide remote internet access to Cubans
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) penned a letter to President Biden on Wednesday urging the administration to help provide internet access to Cubans, amid unprecedented anti-government protests by thousands of people.
“I write to urge you to assist in providing Internet access to the people of Cuba standing up against communist oppression and demanding a voice after decades of suffering under the yoke of a cruel dictatorship,” DeSantis wrote in the letter.
Thousands of people took part in demonstrations across Cuba on Sunday, protesting against the government of President Miguel Díaz-Canel amid an economic crisis and a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Demonstrations also took place in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, in a show of solidarity with the protesters in Cuba.
The Cuban government, following Sunday’s historic protests, imposed an internet blackout that left a large percentage of the island disconnected, according to The Washington Post, making matters difficult for activists who were working to track or publicize the scope of the security restrictions.
Access to the internet, however, reportedly began to return on Wednesday, according to the Post.
Amid the blackout, DeSantis called on the Biden administration to “act immediately” and provide “all necessary authorizations, indemnifications, and funding to American businesses with the capability to provide Internet access for the people of Cuba.”
“Steps must be taken immediately,” DeSantis added, noting that the U.S. has means to provide internet access to Cuba remotely.
He said the lack of internet access barred Cuban people from communicating with one another and speaking to their loved ones in Florida. He also said the restrictions limited the world’s ability to “see what is happening on the ground as the Cuban people rise in support of freedom.”
He said access to the internet for Cubans is “of critical importance as they stand up against the repressive Communist government.”
“In the hands of these brave individuals, such access may be the key to finally bringing democracy to the island,” DeSantis continued.
President Biden addressed the prospect of reinstating Internet access in Cuba on Thursday during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, telling reporters the administration is “considering” if it has the technological ability to do so.
“They’ve cut off access to the Internet, we’re considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access,” Biden said.
At least 100 protesters, activists and independent journalists have been arrested since the Sunday protests, according to CNN.
One man has been reported dead.
Updated 6:18 p.m.