WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — An impassioned group of Palm Beach County elected officials and community members on Thursday called on President Joe Biden and the White House to send immediate aid to Cuba as unrest and anti-government protests unfold on the island nation.
More than a dozen people -- many of them Cuban Americans with family in the Communist country -- spoke during a news conference at The Box Gallery in West Palm Beach.
"We need a solution! We need it now! We cannot let this moment pass with nothing but words! We need action!" shouted Lazaro Mur, the founder of the Latino Coalition of the Palm Beaches. "We owe it to the people of Cuba to take action now!"
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Rolando Chang Barrero, the president of the Palm Beach County Democratic Hispanic Chapter, said Thursday he's organizing a convoy of buses to travel to Washington, D.C. next week.
In addition, Mayor Steven Grant of Boynton Beach said he’s traveling to D.C. next week to speak to anyone who will listen.
"The Internet, it is a utility, and whatever I can do to help give the Cuban people the Internet, that is something that I'll be looking forward to doing," Grant said.
Mur demanded the White House receive the group when they arrive in our nation's capital.
"We need action," Mur said. "Why can't we have freedom flights from Cuba to rescue people and bring them here? We can place them. We have churches, we have organizations. Nobody's gonna be sleeping on the streets if they come here from Cuba."
Cubans have taken to the streets both on the island nation and in South Florida in protest of the country's Communist government, with many local Cuban Americans calling for U.S. intervention.
In turn, Cuban authorities blocked the Internet and social media sites in an apparent effort to stop the flow of information into, out of, and within the beleaguered nation.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday asking his administration "to assist in providing 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."
DeSantis went on to call access to the Internet "of critical importance as they stand up against the repressive Communist government."
Speaking in Miami on Thursday, the governor said he has not heard back yet from the White House on his request.
"Hopefully we will get some type of response in the very near future," DeSantis said. "Time is of the essence here. Every day the regime has to black out the truth is a day where they can get the upper hand on this."
The people of Cuba, who have suffered under decades of a Communist dictatorship, are now dealing with severe shortages of food, water, medicine, and other critical needs as the island nation grapples with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The thirst for freedom knows no bounds," Palm Beach County Commissioner Maria Sachs said. "Today, the Cuban people have spoken, and they have said with a loud voice there isn't any government in the world that can keep the Cuban people from that thirst for freedom and their passion for liberty."
Sachs said the next step is for local elected officials and residents to contact Florida's congressional delegation, including U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, to help bring the power of Washington to South Florida.
"Regardless of Republican or Democrat, it is America stepping forward to bridge that 90 miles between the island of Cuba and Florida," Sachs said.
More than a dozen members of Congress, including Rubio and Scott, introduced a resolution on Thursday that urges Biden to coordinate an international effort through the United Nations Security Council and European Union to "impose multilateral sanctions on the regime and against those violating the human rights of the protesters."
Calling on the Biden administration to "heal the festering wound" that "still has not healed" in six decades, West Palm Beach architect and activist Rick Gonzalez said Cuba's military is shooting, beating, and attacking women and the elderly during the ongoing protests.
"We are not going back into the hole. We are not going to have a terrorist tyranny destroy the people of Cuba anymore," Gonzalez said.
"This has been a united front of all people coming together," Barrero said. "Stand with us and have our voices heard loud and clear."