An internet blackout was enforced by the communist state Sunday after Cubans hit the streets in historic protests over food shortages, inadequate access to the coronavirus vaccine, and unreliable electricity.
“We’re considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access,” Biden during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday.
Biden also dismissed both communism and socialism in answer to a question.
“Communism is a failed system, a universally failed system, and I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute,” the president said.
“Cuba is, unfortunately, a failed state and repressing their citizens,” he continued. “There are a number of things that we are considering doing to help the people of Cuba, but they would require…a guarantee that they would not be taken advantage of by the government.”
The Cuban government ended the internet shutdown Wednesday, allowing videos and images to surface that revealed suppressive efforts by police forces to quell the protests, but service has been unreliable.
The president’s comments come one day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter to Biden asking him to reinstate the internet for the Cuban people.
Other top Florida officials including Lieutenant Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Republican Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar and Carlos Gimenez, and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr joined DeSantis’ calls and held a joint press conference Thursday to plead with the president to take action.
“We are seeing on the island of Cuba people fighting against a communist dictatorship,” DeSantis said. “A free Cuba is a noble cause.
“We have to stand with the people of Cuba against the communist dictatorship, and one of the most effective things we can do as a country is getting internet back on the island, but we need the Biden Administration to step up to make this happen,” he added.
Biden pointed to calls for reallowing remittance assistance to Cubans – a policy that was reversed under the Trump administration – but said he would not consider that option at this time.
“Because the fact is it is highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances,” Biden said.
He further outlined the possibility that the U.S. could send aid in the form of COVID vaccine distributions, as the virus remains a serious threat in Cuba.
But he said he would only permit such an option if he was “assured” that an international organization would oversee the administration of the vaccines to ensure fair distribution among the population.