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The Senate approved on Tuesday an amendment proposed by Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott that would require the Biden administration to provide free, open and uncensored Internet access to Cuba. The decision was confirmed by Rubio on Twitter and in an official press release on the Senate website.
With the passage of the amendment, the Senate would create a Deficit Neutral Reserve Fund (DNRF) in the next reconciliation bill that will be used to develop and deploy existing technology on the island.
“Today, my colleagues sent a clear, bipartisan message that the United States is committed to getting uncensored and unrestricted internet access to the people of Cuba,” Rubio said in his press release. “The technology exists to do this without delay, and I urge the Biden Administration to begin moving forward immediately.”
Senator Scott, for his part, had said earlier that the United States should support the “brave freedom fighters” who are the Cubans who have taken to the streets since July 11 demanding an end to the Castro dictatorship of Miguel Díaz-Canel.
“The communist regime is terrified of the Cuban people, trying to cut off their communication with each other and the rest of the world and doing everything in its power to prevent them from shedding light on the regime’s oppression and atrocities,” Scott said. “The time for President Biden to review his Cuba policy is over ––we need to take immediate action to implement all technology to facilitate the free flow of information to and from the island, and amplify the voices of the Cuban people by passing this amendment.”
Bipartisan support to provide internet to Cuba
The initiative to provide Cuba with Internet was born a few days after the start of the massive protests, when the island was denied of mobile internet service and with dozens of arbitrary arrests by the regime. At that time, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Cuban American Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr held a press conference to discuss the measure.
During that conference, Congresswoman Salazar said that “America is the home of innovation. No one does it better than us. We have Bezos. We have Google. We have Microsoft. We have Apple. We work best when the private joins the public sector. Now it’s up to the president to unlock this capability. The administration can do this now and must do this now.”
Likewise, Governor DeSantis called on Biden to “provide Internet access to the people of Cuba standing up against communist oppression and demanding a voice after decades of suffering under the yoke of a cruel dictatorship.”
According to a recent Echelon Insights poll, the initiative to provide internet to Cuba has strong bipartisan support among voters. The poll results indicate that 65% of voters surveyed respond positively to the proposal. Democrats represent a majority in this category with 71% in favor, compared to 60% of Republicans who agree.
Republicans and Democrats also agree that the Biden administration and American society should show public support for Cuban citizens protesting communism, and that the United States should increase sanctions against Cuba’s dictatorship.
A matter of political will, not technology
Much has been said about the options available to the United States to carry out the proposal. Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr said at the time that “it is not a problem of technology” but of political will.
“The U.S. should support the introduction of new Internet services to the island (whether it’s the high-altitude balloons that the FCC approved for use after the hurricane in Puerto Rico or the addition of wi-fi services from our embassy in Havana or the introduction of new satellite Internet services). We know this technology works.”
Carr also mentioned that “the United States should strengthen support for circumvention technologies, such as VPNs. “Psiphon is one of the most popular among people in Cuba right now. This method of circumvention is having and will continue to have an immediate impact.”
Tomás Lugo, journalist and writer. Born in Venezuela and graduated in Social Communication. Has written for international media outlets. Currently living in Colombia // Tomás Lugo, periodista y articulista. Nacido en Venezuela y graduado en Comunicación Social. Ha escrito para medios internacionales. Actualmente reside en Colombia.