President Joe Biden said Thursday that he is studying whether his government has “the technological capacity to restore” internet access in Cuba, and ruled out facilitating the sending of remittances to the island in the short term.
“They have cut off internet access. We are considering whether we have the technological capacity to restore that access,” Biden said during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House.
The president was referring to the mobile internet blackout that has persisted in Cuba since last Sunday’s anti-dictatorship protests, which experts and activists say is aimed at preventing a repeat of the demonstrations.
The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has pressured the White House to reach an agreement with American companies to bring Internet access to the island via satellite or to expand access to that service from the American embassy in Havana.
“There are a number of things I would consider doing to help the people of Cuba, but that would require a different circumstance or a guarantee that the government would not take advantage of them,” Biden said.
“For example, the ability to send remittances to Cuba. I wouldn’t do that now, because the fact is that the government would very likely confiscate those remittances or at least a good part of them,” he added.
As for the COVID-19 health crisis on the island, Biden assured that he would be “prepared to donate significant quantities of vaccines.
But, he clarified, he will only do so “if it is guaranteed that an international organization will administer those vaccines and will do so in a way that ordinary citizens will have access to them.”
The president added that Cuba is a “failed state” that “represses its citizens.”
Hours after his spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, condemned the “failed ideology of communism” in reference to Cuba, Biden responded to the question of whether he shares that opinion, and whether he thinks the same about socialism, to which some of the members of the left-wing of his party adhere.
“Communism is a failed system, universally failed. And I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute,” Biden said.