DeSantis, federal officials, want Biden to restore Internet access in Cuba; FL’s role won’t be easy

By: - July 15, 2021 3:50 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference in Miami on July 15, 2021, related to the Cuban protests. Credit: Screenshot/The Florida Channel.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials on Thursday called on President Joe Biden to take immediate action on restoring Internet access to the people of Cuba, following shutdowns of Internet service and protests in Florida and elsewhere against Cuba’s Communist government.

But DeSantis said during a press conference in Miami that the state’s effort to provide Internet to Cuba through satellites isn’t an easy process, which he said would “require some infrastructure on the ground.”

“We’re happy to do whatever we can on the state level,” DeSantis said. “We do have some Florida companies and those satellites; there are certain things that we would require there.”

DeSantis also suggested that the U.S. Embassy could be utilized to offer Internet services. As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, thousands of people in Florida took to the streets in protest, blocking sidewalks and roads.

“There are just a variety of things. Our view is ‘let’s just turn it all on’ and lets get moving. It isn’t as easy as just saying ‘this satellite can just be put over there’ but it can be done, we just need the support.”

Overall, DeSantis said, “We need President Biden to step up to make this happen. Mr. President, now’s the time to stand up and be counted. The one thing that communist regimes fear the most is the truth.”

One of the members of the Federal Communications Commission, Brendan Carr, said at the press conference that they are waiting on the green light from the Biden administration to authorize Internet access to Cubans who are fighting for freedom.

Millions of people in Cuba are fighting for freedom and it’s important for officials to act now to offer Internet assistance, Carr said. According to FCC’s website, Carr was nominated to the FCC by former President Donald Trump.

Carr explained that the “technology exists” in the United States to assist Cuba with the Internet, including the use of satellites, and improving communications infrastructure but said the Biden administration should approve the authorization by today.

U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, a South Florida Republican, was also present at the news conference and agreed that the U.S. has the technological capability to offer assistance.

“We need some authorizations and clearances from the Biden administration,” Carr said. “One way that we can do that is to bolster the ability of the Cuban people to speak back to the world, to send us their photos, to send us their videos.”

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a Wednesday press briefing that the protests in Cuba “have largely stopped because of the regime’s violent crackdown and retaliatory measures against Cubans exercising their fundamental and universal rights.”

“Of course, we will continue to call for a change in approach, and we will continue to review our own policies about what is possible and work with our partners around the world in a coordinated fashion as well,” Psaki said.

In a letter Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis also urged President Biden to support the people of Cuba who are “standing up against Communist oppression” and give them a voice “after decades of suffering from under the yoke of cruel dictatorship.”

The States Newsroom, Washington, D.C bureau, contributed to this report.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.