Ron DeSantis has demanded Joe Biden beams the internet to the people of Cuba instead of ‘just sitting there doing nothing’ after its government imposed a blackout amid ongoing protests.
The Florida Governor called on the president to ‘step up and be on the side of freedom’ by giving US companies the go-ahead to restore internet to the island nation.
‘The internet access is something we have the capability of doing,’ he said.
‘We have companies in the US that want to do it, but they need the okay of the federal government.’
DeSantis made the comments during a town hall session on Fox News Sean Hannity Wednesday night in Miami’s Cuban district Little Havana.
Dozens of people protesting against the Cuban government gathered for the town hall where Senator Marco Rubio also spoke branding Biden administration officials of being ‘sympathizers’ of the government’s ‘evil regime.’
Thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets this month in the largest protests the country has seen in more than two decades to demonstrate against chronic shortages of basic goods, power cuts and the Communist government regime.
The government responded by enforcing an internet blackout, leaving much of the island without the ability to communicate and blocking news and images from the protests from being shared.
DeSantis last week asked Biden to send federal assistance to provide internet access to the people of Cuba while the president said he was looking at potential ways the US could assist.
Ron DeSantis demanded Joe Biden beams the internet to the people of Cuba instead of ‘just sitting there doing nothing’ on Fox News Sean Hannity Wednesday night
The Florida governor repeated his calls for Biden to step in and restore internet to the country Wednesday as he accused the president of leaving ‘folks out to dry.’
‘He has it within his authority to do that. He could make it happen. And if he’s willing to do that, I think it would make a positive difference,’ he told Hannity.
‘As it stands now, he is basically just sitting there doing nothing.
‘He is leaving these folks out to dry and what’s going to end up happening if they don’t get any type of assistance, the regime will continue to clamp down and they will eventually stamp this out and then they will remain even stronger in power.
‘And that would be a huge blow to the cause of freedom.’
DeSantis said it is ‘incumbent’ on the US to support the people of Cuba in their struggles against the ‘communist regime’.
‘From day one, the people of Cuba have been protesting and demonstrating against the communist dictatorship in Havana, it’s not because of vaccines. It’s not because of these side issues,’ he said, dismissing the notion the protests may be linked to the pandemic.
‘They want a new government. They want a free Cuba. And I think it’s incumbent upon us in the United States to be supportive of those efforts.
‘I’ve called on Joe Biden, the communist regime has shut down internet.’
He continued: ‘Let’s work to beam internet onto the island of Cuba so these folks have a fighting chance to converse with one another, to send what’s going on to the inside world.
‘Let’s build an international coalition so that the regime knows the free world stands with the people of Cuba.’
The Florida Governor called on the president to ‘step up and be on the side of freedom’ by giving US companies the go-ahead to restore internet to the island nation Biden speaking at a town hall in Ohio Wednesday
Protesters gather in Miami last week in support of the thousands of Cubans who have taken to the streets this month in the largest protests the country has seen in more than two decades
DeSantis said the US helping the people of Cub brings an ‘opportunity to really take a new chapter in history’.
‘Cuba would be a phenomenal ally of our country if it was free,’ he said.
The State Department said Tuesday the US is currently working with the private sector and Congress to look for ways to make the internet more accessible to the people of Cuba.
Spokesman Ned Price told reporters the US was identifying ways to ensure people have ‘access to the free flow of information on the internet’ as he called on the Cuban government to restore full internet and telecommunications off its own back.
Biden said last Thursday during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the US was working on ways to restore access.
‘They’ve cut off access to the internet. We’re considering whether we have the technology to reinstate that access,’ he said.
The Biden administration was said to be considering numerous options including the use of stratospheric internet balloons.
But Rubio accused the Biden administration of being ‘sympathizers’ of the ‘evil regime’ in the country which is holding Cubans ‘hostage.’
‘This is what tyranny does and that’s what Marxism does. They hold people hostage,’ he said of the Cuban government on Wednesday’s Hannity.
‘The Cuban people are their hostages. They say look, these people are going to starve, these people are going to suffer unless you send more money that goes through our hands.
DeSantis made the comments during a town hall session on Fox News Sean Hannity Wednesday night in Miami’s Cuban district Little Havana
Senator Marco Rubio also spoke branding Biden administration officials of being ‘sympathizers’ of the government’s ‘evil regime’
‘They are remittances. They go to a bank that they set up, the military set up in Panama. You send the money and they take 10 percent off the top. Then they take your dollars away from you.’
The Cuban government controls the financial sector on the island, and the country has fallen into economic uncertainty.
Biden said last week he believed remittances – money sent to relatives in Cuba – was likely ending up in the hands of the government regime.
On Monday, Biden announced he was forming a working group to identify the most effective way to get remittances ‘directly into the hands of the Cuban people’ and ius reviewing how remittances are sent to the country.
A senior administration official told CNN: ‘At President Biden’s direction, the United States is actively pursuing measures that will both support the Cuban people and hold the Cuban regime accountable’ the official said.
Rubio took aim at the Biden administration over the remittance ‘scheme’ saying the US is walking ‘into a trap’ set by Cuba.
‘It’s a scheme… they are walking us right into a trap and you’ve got to two people in charge of Cuba policy right now in the Biden administration who want to open it all up,’ he said.
‘One of them – the lady at the State Department – was the one who was organizing trips to take congressman and senators to Cuba to fawn and grovel all over the Cuban regime… The people in charge of it are sympathizers.’
Special forces police patrol the streets in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday after the government executed an internet blackout on residents
Police detain an anti-government demonstrator during a protest in Havana, Cuba, July 11
Rubio also went as far as to claim some officials would even be happy to ‘send the Russians remittance’.
‘I think some of these people in the Biden administration if they had their way, they would want to send the Russians remittance too,’ he said.
‘That’s their thought process about all of this is – ‘what’s the big deal?”
Rubio warned that Russia already has a strong presence in Cuba, with a ‘major spy station there’.
‘It wouldn’t surprise me if [Russia] send some of these military contractors they use all of the world,’ he said,
‘But in the end, it’s not going to say this regime. This regime is mortally wounded. It’s lost its legitimacy.
‘I’m not telling you it’s going to be quick and it’s going to be easy, but it’s a dying animal and we need to do everything we can to expedite this.’
The White House is said to be looking at a series of responses to the Cuban unrest, including bolstering the US presence at the embassy in Havana and exploring whether to sanction Cuban officials for human rights violations against peaceful protesters.
Cuba is going through one of the worst economic crises in its history, a mixture of its own inefficiencies, the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact from US sanctions.
GIANT BALLOONS, SATELLITES AND CIRCUMVENTION TOOLS: HOW THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION COULD GIVE CUBA INTERNET
The high-altitude balloons, roughly the size of a tennis court, are a way to get internet access to remote areas and were used around Puerto Rico in 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit
On Thursday Ron DeSantis suggested the Biden administration send balloons to Cuba to act as floating WiFi hotpots to help the island’s people get back online after the communist regime shut down their access.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the balloons would be deployed around 20 miles off Cuba, but would require Department of Defense and Federal Aviation Administration approval.
It is also not clear how much they would cost and how much time it would take to implement.
The high-altitude balloons, roughly the size of a tennis court, are a way to get internet access to remote areas and were used around Puerto Rico in 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit.
The balloons travel approximately 12 miles (20km) above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere.
Winds in the stratosphere are stratified, and each layer of wind varies in speed and direction, so the balloons use software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go.
It then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network.
The balloons harness power from card table-sized solar panels that dangle below them, and they can gather enough charge in four hours to power them for a day.
Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area of around 25 miles (40km) in diameter using LTE, also referred to as 4G, technology.
Google’s parent company Alphabet had an internet balloon business called Project Loon. The firm was responsible for sending them to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Maria and also deployed them in remote areas of Kenya.
Alphabet had hoped to put thousands of balloons in the stratosphere, but in January 2020, the CEO said the project was no longer commercially viable and shut it down.
However Raven Industries partnered with Google and was heavily involved in the project for nearly a decade.
They still have the technology, so could be tapped if the Biden administration decides to go down that route.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said he has discussed the use of Raven, but also suggested other forms of technology.
INTERNET CIRCUMVENTION TOOLS
Psiphon Inc’s freely available internet censorship circumvention tool has about helped nearly 1.4 million Cubans this week gain access to websites, the company said on Friday, after Cuba’s government curbed access to popular social media and messaging platforms.
The Toronto-based company’s Psiphon Network receives U.S. government financial support and also helped people in other countries including Iran and China overcome governmental restrictions on internet access.
Psiphon said 1.389 million users accessed the open web from Cuba through its network on Thursday, as well as 1.238 million as noon EDT on Friday.
Psiphon said the roughly 1.4 million represents about 20 percent of Cuban internet users.
Its open source circumvention tool can be downloaded from app stores like Google Play or Apple to ‘maximize your chances of bypassing censorship,’ according to the company. Canadian university researchers developed the software in 2007 to let users evade governmental internet firewalls.
‘We must stand with those opposing authoritarian regimes,’ said U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, a congressional supporter of U.S. funding for the network.
Senator Bob Menendez told MSNBC on Tuesday the US should be ‘looking at how we can expand access to the internet, consider satellite feeds of the internet so people in the island can communicate with each other.’
DeSantis also suggested the US may be able to beam satellite to help the protesters get back online and called on private companies to offer up their services.
Part of the reason the Cuba government shut down the internet was because they blamed US social media ‘campaigns’ for the unrest.
SpaceX launched a new batch of Starlinks Tuesday using a recycled Falcon 9 rocket to ferry the internet satellites to space. The rocket took off at 3:01pm ET from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida as blue skies covered the area
Space X have invested $10billion in their Starlink satellites. Elon Musk said in June that more 1,500 satellites aloft and expects service to go global by August.
Starlink satellites are at around 300 miles (500km) above the surface.
They form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.
The constellation, informally known as Starlink, and under development at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Washington.
Its goal is to beam superfast internet into your home from space.