Ron DeSantis Wants Florida To Provide Internet To Cuba Following Government Shutdown

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would want Florida to provide internet services to help Cuban dissidents who are coordinating protests in Havana after services were blocked by the government in an effort to prevent the public from organizing demonstrations. 

On Tuesday night, the Republican governor told members of Cuba’s exile community that he is trying to get Florida firms to beam in internet connectivity to provide “secure, open networks” to Cuban dissidents so that they can continue to organize, despite the Cuban government’s recent move to shutdown communication.

“What does the regime do when you start to see these images? They shut down the internet. They don’t want the truth to be out, they don’t want people to be able to communicate,” DeSantis said, according to the Miami Herald.

“And so one of the things I think we should be able to do with our private companies or with the United States is to provide some of that internet via satellite,” he added. “We have companies on the Space Coast that launch these things.”

While DeSantis — who is among the most outspoken critics of the Cuban government following ongoing unrest in Havana — didn’t clarify how companies would be able to restore social media access to Cuban dissidents, he noted that he would make a few calls to “see what are the options.”

The Cuban government moved to restrict access to social media sites late Sunday, according to reports, in an effort to block protesters from coordinating with each other and also to impose a media blackout that would force news organization reporting about the pro-democracy protests to solely rely on official broadcasts instead of getting direct coverage from demonstrations on the ground.

ABC News reported that on Monday, “Cuban authorities were blocking Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Telegram” citing Alp Toker, director of Netblocks, a London-based internet monitoring firm. 

It added that Twitter does “not appear to be blocked,” although it noted that it does appear that the Cuban government has the power to rein in its access as well. 

At least one person has reportedly been killed in the protests and “more than 100” were missing in the historic unrest as thousands of people took to the streets over food shortages, high prices and other grievances against the government — exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Journalists and protesters have also been reportedly detained.

Cubans have just recently gained access to social media, which has spurred “regular” protests since 2019, albeit most of these rallies were small and easily dispersed. Experts believe, however, that the bigger demonstrations, which began on Sunday, are “absolutely and definitely driven by increased internet and smartphone access in Cuba.”

Over the past two days since the protests broke, Cuban dissidents have been able to utilize social media platforms such as Twitter to disseminate proof of the Cuban government’s crackdown. 

Individuals on the ground are also able to send videos showing the repressive response of the communist government to the demonstrations — including arrests, detentions and, in some cases, physical violence against pro-democracy protesters.

DeSantis says protests not about Covid-19 but communism

In his speech, DeSantis also refuted the White House claim that the flaring protests across Cuba are motivated by food and medicine shortages as well as the lack of Covid-19 care as the pandemic rages on. Instead, he said that the demonstrations are tied with issues related to the Communist government of Cuba.

“Everyone here is in agreement in all of these fundamental truths and one of those truths is the people who are out in the streets revolting are not complaining about a lack of vaccine or for some tangential issue,” the Republican governor — whose state is home to more than 60% of the Cuban population in the United States.

“They’re revolting against a corrupt, communist dictatorship that has ruled that island with an iron fist for over 60 years,” he added.

On Monday, Cuban dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel painted the protests as part of a “foreign plot” to “fracture” the communist revolution launched in 1959 by Fidel Castro.

Meanwhile, some of the outspoken members of the Democratic Party appeared rather quiet amid the escalating chaos that erupted in Cuba over the weekend.

Various reports noted that while several high-profile Republicans have come out to support pro-democracy protests in Cuba, self-proclaimed Democratic socialists like Senator Bernie Sanders, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive Democrats have yet to issue any statement  — prompting critics to note that these “Democratic socialists” decided to “ignore” the demonstrators’ fight against Cuba’s Communist regime. 

Rubio, Cruz sends support to Cuba

Meanwhile, Senators ​Marco Rubio (Florida) and Ted Cruz (Texas) — both with Cuban descent — also rallied behind protesters whom they said are seeking liberty.

People in Cuba are protesting 62 years of socialism, lies, tyranny & misery not expressing concern about rising Covid-19 cases/deaths. Why is it so hard for @Potus & the people in his administration to say that?” Rubio tweeted.

Senator Cruz also took to Twitter to express his support to the thousands of demonstrators in Cuba.

“It has brutalized & denied freedom to generations of Cubans, and forced my family & so many others to flee,” he tweeted Sunday. “The American people stand squarely with the men & women of Cuba and their noble fight for liberty.”

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Steeve Strange

Steeve is the CEO & Co-Founder of The Scoop.