DeSantis calls on Biden to ‘step up’ in helping restore internet to Cuba

DeSantis said every option should be explored

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday called on President Joe Biden to help restore internet access to Cuba after it was shut down by the communist regime in an effort to clamp down on the spread of information amid protests that broke out on the island nation. 

Since Sunday, thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets to oppose the communist government that has had a stranglehold on power for the last six decades. The country is going through its worst economic crisis in decades.

"We obviously have to stand with the people of Cuba against the communist dictatorship," DeSantis said at a Thursday press conference in Miami.

The Republican governor said Biden needs to "step up" in helping to get internet back to the island nation. 

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"The one thing that communist regimes fear the most, is the truth. And if we’re able to help Cubans communicate with one another, also communicate to the outside world, that truth is going to matter, that truth, I think, will be decisive," DeSantis said. "And so, Mr. President, now's the time to stand up and be counted."

DeSantis said every option should be explored, including using offshore and satellite technology to supply internet service. Some of the options he suggested included using balloons to provide connectivity or using the U.S. Embassy in Havana as a kind of hotspot.  

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, speaks during a news conference at the offices of Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., alongside Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, left, and Marcell Felipe, right, founder of the Inspire America Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting democracy in Cuba and the Americas, Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Miami. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, speaks during a news conference at the offices of Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., alongside Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, left, and Marcell Felipe, right, founder of the Inspire America Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting democracy in Cuba and the Americas, Thursday, July 15, 2021, in Miami.  (AP)

In cities throughout Florida, home to the nation's largest community of Cuban exiles, demonstrations have broken out in support of the protesters.  

Earlier this week, DeSantis suggested that Florida-based companies should attempt to provide internet access to Cuba. He has also compared the situation to American efforts to broadcast radio into the Soviet Union during the Cold War in Europe

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It remains to be seen how the U.S. government or any other entity, public or private, might keep internet service uninterrupted.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden's administration did not have an immediate assessment of the proposals being floated by Florida officials. 

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"Well, the lack of internet access, as you know ... is a huge issue in Cuba and one that is very challenging for the people of Cuba so they can gain access to accurate information," she said. "We're certainly looking at that to see what can be done to address (the issue), but in terms of that specific proposal I don't have an assessment of that."

The Associated Press contributed to this report