“We obviously have to stand with the Cuban people against the Communist dictatorship,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Miami on Thursday, adding that restoring internet access is vital in supporting the Cuban people.
DeSantis said every option should be explored, including the use of offshore and satellite technology to provide internet service. One option being considered is to use bubbles to provide connectivity. The Republican governor also suggested using the United States Embassy in Havana as a kind of hotspot.
“The one thing communist regimes fear the most is the truth. And if we are able to help Cubans communicate with each other – also communicate with the outside world – this truth will matter. This truth, I think, will be decisive, ”said DeSantis. “And so, Mr. President, now is the time to rise up and be counted.”
It remains to be seen how the US government or any other entity, public or private, could maintain uninterrupted Internet service.
“We need the political will of the Biden administration,” said Republican US representative Maria Elvira Salazar, whose parents were Cuban exiles. “And if the federal government finds it cannot pay for the resources, the Cuban-American community will.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden’s administration had not had an immediate assessment of the proposals put forward by Florida officials.
“Well, the lack of internet access, as you know … is a huge problem in Cuba and a very difficult problem for the Cuban people so that they can have access to accurate information,” he said. she declared. “We’re definitely looking at this to see what can be done to fix (the problem), but as far as this specific proposition goes, I don’t have a rating on that.”
Meanwhile, two Florida men were arrested during a protest in support of the protests and are being held on charges related to the state’s new so-called riot law.
Julian Rodriguez-Rodriguez, 30, Maikel Vazquez-Pico, 39, were among those arrested Tuesday night as a group of protesters attempted to seize an exit ramp on Interstate 275 and the freeway Dale Mabry, which is a major thoroughfare in Tampa.
The two were arrested on charges including assaulting a law enforcement officer, resisting law enforcement and participating in an illegal gathering that blocked streets or sidewalks, records show .
Rodriguez-Rodriguez put an officer in a bear hug as the officer attempted to stop another protester, according to an arrest report. He then punched an officer in the face, shattering his glasses as the officer tried to stop him, according to the report. He continued to resist his arrest until he was handcuffed.
The men were being held without bail in Hillsborough County Jail early Thursday. It was not immediately clear whether either had an attorney who could comment.
Earlier this year, DeSantis enacted a Florida bill that tightens penalties against protesters who turn violent and creates new criminal penalties for those who stage protests that get out of hand. The provisions of the law also criminalize blocking certain roads and granting immunity to people crossing protesters blocking a road.
The bill was introduced after last summer’s racial justice protests in which some Black Lives Matter protesters were greeted by police with tear gas and arrests as they took to the streets for days.
At its press conference on Thursday, DeSantis again sought to differentiate the recent protests against Cuba from those of last year.
“The Americans of Cuban origin who are demonstrating,” he said, “are not violent riots. They are there in peace and they are making their voices heard, and we are supporting them. “
But he said protesters should not close roads that could hamper traffic and commerce.
Protesters blocked the Palmetto Freeway near Hialeah for about 30 minutes on Wednesday evening, media reported. On Tuesday, they blocked the same highway for hours during the rainy rush hour.
Calvan reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. Frisaro reported from Fort Lauderdale. Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe in Washington contributed to this report.