Gov. Ron DeSantis holds roundtable discussion on protests in Cuba

Cuban Americans across South Florida hold protests in solidarity
Gov. Ron DeSantis roundtable discussion in Miami amid Cuba protests, July 13, 2021
Cuban protests in Miami on July 12, 2021
Posted at 11:44 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 16:35:41-04

MIAMI — Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Miami Tuesday afternoon where he held a roundtable discussion that focused on the ongoing protests in Cuba.

The discussion was held at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora with local leaders and lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla. and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez.

"The people who are out in the streets [of Cuba] revolting are not complaining about a lack of [COVID-19] vaccine or for some tangential issue," DeSantis said. "They are revolting against a corrupt, communist dictatorship."

The governor criticized the Cuban government for shutting down the internet on the island, which is preventing residents from communicated and sharing news about the protests.

DeSantis urged private companies or government agencies to provide internet access to the island via satellites.

"We have companies on the Space Coast [of Florida] that launch these things, so that's going to be some calls that I'm going to make to see what are the options from some Florida companies to be able to do it," DeSantis said.

The rare protests began on the island nation last weekend over high prices and food shortages.

Cuban police are out in force as the president is accusing Cuban Americans of using social media to spur the protests.

The demonstrations in several cities and towns were some of the biggest displays of antigovernment sentiment seen in years in tightly controlled Cuba, which is facing a surge of coronavirus cases as it struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades.

Authorities appear determined to put a stop to the demonstrations, arresting some protesters and putting deploying more police.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Monday accused Cuban Americans of using social medial to create "dissatisfaction by manipulating emotions and feelings" of Cubans.

Cuban Americans across South Florida, including West Palm Beach, have taken to the streets since Sunday to show their solidarity with the protesters.

Another rally is scheduled to be held Tuesday at 5 p.m. in Jose Marti Park in downtown West Palm Beach.

Talk of boating to Cuba to back protests

The United States Coast Guard in Miami is warning against efforts to cross the straits between Florida and Cuba in response to the protests on the island.

A rear admiral's warning Monday night came as groups of Cuban Americans said they planned to travel in boats filled with supplies to Cuba.

South Florida has the country’s largest population of Cuban Americans.

In Miami, Cuban social media personalities announced their effort to make the 10-hour boat ride to show support for Cubans protesting against higher prices and food shortages on the island.

Some 30 years have passed since similar protests on the island.