Should the U.S. Restore Internet Access for Cubans When the Communist Dictatorship Cuts Them Off?
Should the U.S. try to provide Internet access to the Cuban people when their government shuts it down?
- In remarks at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joe Biden was asked about the Cuban government cutting off the Internet access for its people and responded, "We are considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access."
- Biden also said that "communism is a failed system, a universally failed system, and I don't see socialism as a very useful substitute, but that's another story."
The original story appears below.
What’s the story?
- The protests by the Cuban people against their government’s repression which began on Sunday were the largest in decades, but the Communist Party of Cuba moved quickly to cut off the public’s access to the Internet and social media platforms that protesters were using to community amongst themselves and with the rest of the world. That has prompted calls for the U.S. government and American telecommunications companies to restore Internet access to the Cuban people.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) wrote a letter to President Joe Biden making a request to that effect, which read in part:
“As you know, the Cuban people are taking to the streets to protest the Communist regime, and the Cuban government has responded with violence. At first, the world could see the images and videos of this mass movement, but now the tyrannical regime of President Miguel Díaz-Canel has shut off access to the Internet. The Cuban people have lost their ability to communicate with one another, and many Floridians born in Cuba have no information on the safety of their loved ones. Equally as important, the world has also lost the ability to see what is happening on the ground as the Cuban people rise in support of freedom.”
- DeSantis explained, “Technology exists to provide Internet access into Cuba remotely, using the innovation of American enterprise” and urged the president “to provide all necessary authorizations, indemnifications, and funding to American businesses with the capability to provide Internet access for the people of Cuba.”
- Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr released a statement concurring with DeSantis’s call for the federal government to help provide Internet access to the people of Cuba and the technical feasibility of doing so:
“While Cuba’s communist regime is blocking Internet access in an effort to hide their brutal crackdown on freedom, American enterprises have the technical capability to beam connectivity to the Cuban people and help power their real and ongoing struggle for life and liberty. With the backing and authorization of the federal government, these private sector innovators can get to work immediately.”
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said in an interview that the U.S. could boost Internet access in Cuba from Key West and the Dry Tortugas in Florida, in addition to the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also wrote a letter to President Biden calling for the federal government to help restore the Cuban people’s access to the Internet:
“In recent years, American firms have made significant strides in telecommunications technologies, including fiber-less solutions that can be deployed to remote regions at relatively short notice. For example, in 2017, during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the island of Puerto Rico received emergency connectivity through balloon-supplied internet. American technical capacity, coupled with the physical proximity of Cuba to the United States and its interests, make providing unrestricted access to the island an attainable and morally imperative goal. Today, U.S. companies stand ready and willing to support this effort with the support of the federal government.”
— Eric Revell
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