DeSantis presses Biden to help keep internet flowing in Cuba

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and different officers pressed the White Home on Thursday to assist efforts to protect web service to antigovernment protesters in Cuba, even advocating using large balloons as floating Wi-Fi hotspots to permit photographs of dissent to stream unabated from the authoritarian nation.

Cuban authorities blocked social media websites in an obvious effort to cease the circulate of knowledge into, out of and inside the nation after 1000’s of Cubans started taking to the streets final weekend to protest restricted entry to COVID-19 vaccines and fundamental items. The nation goes by way of its worst financial disaster in a long time.

“We clearly have to face with the folks of Cuba in opposition to the communist dictatorship,” DeSantis mentioned at a Thursday press convention in Miami, including that restoring entry to the web is significant to supporting the folks of Cuba.

The protests within the island nation have sparked an outpouring of assist in Florida, which is dwelling to the nation’s largest neighborhood of Cuban exiles. Throngs of individuals in Miami, Orlando and the Tampa space have rallied in assist, generally shutting down main thoroughfares.

DeSantis mentioned each choice must be explored, together with utilizing offshore and satellite tv for pc expertise to provide web service. One choice being thought-about is utilizing balloons to offer connectivity. The Republican governor additionally recommended utilizing the U.S. Embassy in Havana as a form of hotspot.

“The one factor that communist regimes worry probably the most is the reality. And if we’re in a position to assist Cubans talk with each other — additionally talk to the surface world — that fact goes to matter. That fact, I believe, shall be decisive,” DeSantis mentioned. “And so, Mr. President, now’s the time to face up and be counted.”

It stays to be seen how the U.S. authorities or another entity, public or non-public, may preserve web service uninterrupted.


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“We want the political willingness from the Biden administration,” mentioned Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, whose dad and mom have been Cuban exiles. “And if the federal authorities considers that they can not pay for the assets, the Cuban American neighborhood will.”

White Home press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned President Joe Biden’s administration didn’t have a right away evaluation of the proposals being floated by Florida officers.

“Effectively, the dearth of web entry, as you already know … is a large subject in Cuba and one which may be very difficult for the folks of Cuba to allow them to achieve entry to correct data,” she mentioned. “We’re actually taking a look at that to see what could be completed to deal with (the problem), however when it comes to that particular proposal I don’t have an evaluation of that.”

In the meantime, two Florida males have been arrested throughout a protest in assist of the demonstrations and are being held on expenses associated to the state’s new so-called anti-riot regulation.

Julian Rodriguez-Rodriguez, 30, Maikel Vazquez-Pico, 39, have been amongst these arrested Tuesday night time as a bunch of protesters tried to take over an exit ramp at Interstate 275 and Dale Mabry Freeway, which is a significant thoroughfare in Tampa.

Each have been arrested on expenses that embody battery on a regulation enforcement officer, resisting regulation enforcement and participating in an illegal meeting that blocked streets or sidewalks, data present.

Rodriguez-Rodriguez put an officer right into a bear hug because the officer was attempting to arrest one other protester, in keeping with an arrest report. He then punched an officer within the face, breaking his glasses because the officer tried to arrest him, the report mentioned. He continued to withstand arrest till he was positioned in handcuffs.

The lads have been being held with out bond within the Hillsborough County Jail early Thursday. It was not instantly clear whether or not both had an legal professional who may remark.

Earlier this yr, DeSantis signed into regulation a Florida invoice that reinforces penalties in opposition to demonstrators who flip violent and creates new legal penalties for individuals who arrange demonstrations that get out of hand. Provisions of the regulation additionally make it a felony to dam some roadways and provides immunity to individuals who drive by way of protesters blocking a street.

The invoice was launched after final summer season’s protests for racial justice throughout which some Black Lives Matter protesters have been met by police with tear fuel and arrests once they took to the streets for days at a time.

Throughout his Thursday press convention, DeSantis once more sought to distinguish current protests over Cuba from these final yr.

“Cuban People who’re out demonstrating,” he mentioned, “they’re not violent riots. They’re on the market being peaceable and so they’re making their voices heard, and we assist them.”

However he mentioned demonstrators shouldn’t be shutting down roads that might impede visitors and commerce.

Protesters blocked the Palmetto Expressway close to Hialeah for about half-hour Wednesday night time, information retailers reported. On Tuesday, they blocked the identical freeway for hours throughout the wet rush hour.


Calvan reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. Frisaro reported from Fort Lauderdale. Related Press author Alexandra Jaffe in Washington contributed to this report.

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