Biden Response to Cuba Protests Is Disappointingly Weak, Florida Senators Say

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The demonstrations in Cuba present a major opportunity for the United States and other democracies around the world, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., says.

Bringing freedom to Cuba would affect the entire region, said Scott, who represents a state with a large Cuban-American population, as well as many other Latin American immigrants. 

“They all know that the instability in Latin America starts with Cuba,” he told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. 

“This is an opportunity to stop the spread of socialism,” Scott said. “Cuba is the reason for the instability in the region, and why we’ve had problems in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and now Colombia.”

Both Scott and his fellow Florida Republican senator, Marco Rubio, told The Daily Signal they were disappointed with the initial response to the Cuban protests from the administration of President Joe Biden. 

Freedom and democracy are possible for the Caribbean island nation that has been under communist control for 62 years, Scott said. He didn’t venture a guess as to how likely that is, but set out possible scenarios.  

“If the international community can rally, hopefully, the Castro regime will call for free and fair elections, and allow for international monitoring,” he said. 

Such action begins with the United States, Scott said. 

“It is up to how much fight the Cuban people have, but also up to the amount of international support they have,” he said, adding:

It is up to President Biden to rally the international community. The European Union needs to show up. I hope every democracy in the world will talk about this. 

If you show the atrocities of communist dictatorships, things will change. If you don’t, it will remain the same.

The Biden administration’s early reaction to the peaceful protests was to blame the increasing rates of COVID-19 in Cuba. Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary with the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, on Sunday tweeted, “the Cuban people exercise their right to peaceful assembly to express concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages.”

Biden on Monday issued a firmer statement about the repression in Cuba, but didn’t reference communism or socialism. 

The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. 

The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment, rather than enriching themselves.

The protests are “unprecedented” and “make clear the demonstrators’ immense courage in the face of an oppressive communist regime,” Rubio said in a statement to The Daily Signal that expressed disappointment in the Biden administration’s handling of the matter. 

“Sixty-two years of socialist dictatorship have led to this historic moment,” he continued. “However, President Biden’s silence over the weekend—during the critical early stages of these demonstrations—as well as his administration’s absurd initial charge that these protests were attributable to COVID-related grievances, have failed to acknowledge the magnitude of the moment. 

“Now more than ever, the Cuban people need our support as they bravely stand up to an oppressive tyrant,” Rubio said.

Scott also said the Biden administration’s response misses the point. 

“This is not about COVID-19. This is about socialism,” he said. “Socialism always ends up in shortages. He ought to be clear about that, and he ought to call for the international community to support freedom and democracy in Cuba.”

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