An unfree, unconnected Cuba is a threat to U.S. security, Florida Republicans say

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'If you want no Chinese (or) Russian influence, then you should want a free Cuba.'

Compared to the night before, the Thursday press conference on the crisis in Cuba U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Cuban American Congress members from Miami-Dade held with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez was a tame affair. But what they said was anything but reassuring.

The setting was appropriate for the subject, the central message of which has remained the same for weeks: President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must take action to help topple the communist regime that for more than six decades has subjugated the people of Cuba. At around noon, more than a dozen Republicans assembled behind a podium inside a Hialeah Gardens Museum honoring thousands of Cuban exiles who participated in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.

Other speakers included U.S. Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart, Carlos Giménez and María Elvira Salazar of Miami-Dade; Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas; Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee; and Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana.

Former Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo, who is now running for city of Hialeah Mayor, and Florida Sen. Manny Díaz Jr. also attended, but did not speak.

Several of those who did speak offered solutions to some of Cuba’s most immediate problems, such as internet access, with varying degrees of specificity. Many warned that tensions in the region would worsen if America does little to intervene, leading to further destabilization of the region and inviting bolder moves by some of the U.S.’s most dangerous adversaries.

“If you want influence of the Communist Party of China in the Western Hemisphere and Russia, then support the regime in Havana, because … every nefarious influence in the world comes through there,” DeSantis said. “If you want no Chinese (or) Russian influence, then you should want a free Cuba.”

That should make the issue of Cuban liberation neither a Republican nor a Democratic one, McCarthy said.

“This is an issue about America, about freedom and the future of the world,” he said. “(Cuba) is 90 miles away from our country. This is the tip of the spear, of the head of what feeds the socialism throughout Latin America, which means more oppression.”

Giménez joined McCarthy in calling on Biden to declare Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel an illegitimate leader — the first step, he said, in toppling the communist regime there and other totalitarian governments in Latin America.

“The regime of Cuba is responsible for what’s happening in Nicaragua, Venezuela, what’s about to happen in Peru, what could be happening in Chile, what is happening in Colombia right now, the seeds that are being planted there,” he said.  “(It creates) instability in our own backyard (and) more repressive regimes.”

Last month, Cubans took to the streets for the largest series of protests the island nation had seen in decades. And for the first time, the world was able to watch what was happening and witness the hardships people there suffer — the extreme shortages of food, water, electricity, medicine and other everyday needs — through online livestreams.

Díaz-Canel, who succeed Raúl Castro in 2019 as yet another communist leader to gain unelected power in Cuba, swiftly cracked down on the protests and blocked most of internet access. Since then, few updates have reached the rest of the world.

For any Cuban liberation campaign to succeed, Salazar said, internet access to Cuba must be restored.

“We need to provide those people that same connectivity so they can decide what to do with their lives,” she said. “We’re not sending them the script, but we do have to give them the platform so they do not feel alone and they know that the United States of America, the rest of the world, is watching what they’re doing and that they are grabbing their destiny in their hands. So, may the lord help President Biden to understand, because if you do not do it, we will do it from Miami and from the state of Florida.”

McCaul, a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, again raised the idea of delivering internet access by balloons. But another great solution is already there, he said, referring to Psiphon, a mobile app that enables users to circumvent government restrictions on internet.

“About a million people have (it) right now to freely and securely communicate both inside and outside of Cuba with their relatives,” he said.

Beyond that, there are myriad other ways to repair the digital bridge to and from Cuba, Díaz-Balart said. He declined to go into specifics.

“I’ve had classified briefings on this,” he said. “Here’s what I can tell you: There’s not one option or two options or three options. There are multiple options available to provide communications for the Cubans throughout the island. Some of those options have been used in other places, by the way.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


8 comments

  • Tom Palmer

    August 5, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    Peru? It just had a democratic election. The right-wing candidate lost, making the same claims another candidate here made. Of course Cuba should be free and democratic, which it hasn’t been very often in its history. I just haven’t heard any real suggestions for bringing that about.

  • Andrew Finn

    August 5, 2021 at 10:06 pm

    How about organizing “Bay Of Pigs 2” ??

  • GD

    August 6, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Why don’t the Cubans go there are take Cuba back?
    Because they are all talk and no action. They want others to do their work as usual.
    And no there are not ways to give them communications. Cuba will just jam any radio, network, shoot down balloons,, etc.
    What Cubans need to do is grow, stockpile food then go on a long strike.

    • Matthew Lusk

      August 6, 2021 at 1:12 pm

      Kennedy stabbed the Cubans in the back by calling off 2 1\2 off the three air strikes in the plan. Kennedy allowed tanks into the area and let them slaughter the counter revolutionaries. . It takes bombs and machine guns and high power munitions. You are stupid to think the average Cuban exile has military munitions.

      • Tom Palmer

        August 6, 2021 at 4:54 pm

        I’ve been to the Bay of Pigs. It looked like a stupid place to launch an invasion. It’s a narrow water body with swamps on either side. There was a lot of poor planning by the exiles that contributed to their defeat. Plus. the Cubans had gotten word something was pending and were waiting for them. At that time it was really speculative that the invaders would have been able to do much because they didn’t have a supply line. Hell, some of them ran out of ammo shortly after they got ashore. The only blame I could assign to Kennedy is agreeing to go along with this cock-eyed idea in the first place.

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 6, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    Look, the globalist likes Marxist Cuba. The obvious way to defeat the globalist is to displace them in Congress. There are more Marxist, more fascists in Congress than patriots. When I’m elected, I will push for an invasion and occupation of Cuba. I will use dreamers and volunteer illegals as the forces and will occupy Cuba for twenty years, then make it a State. I will also push for invasion of Mexico since Fox did not pay for the forking wall and promoted invasion of the United States.. I will clear out the Baja peninsula and push the northern Mexican provinces south. I would invite taiwanese into Chihuahua , Coahuila etc. to buffer future invasion.

    • Tom Palmer

      August 6, 2021 at 4:55 pm

      Is it 1898 again? Get a grip on reality, man.

  • tlb

    August 13, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Can anyone tell me how we are able to provide internet services to Cuba? It would be nice, but how can it be done effectively?

Comments are closed.


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