Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., joined other Republicans in pleading with President Joe Biden to instruct his administration to restore internet service in Cuba amid the country’s protests against the socialist government.
"Technology exists to tear down Cuba's cyberall (sp) and aid dissenters if President Biden is willing to use it," Bush posted on Twitter on Sunday. "Please do so, President Biden."
In his tweet, Bush shared a Wall Street Journal commentary that cited Havana's attempt to stop the unrest by restricting access to social media and messaging platforms, and curtailing communications on the island.
The WSJ said the technology exists for the U.S. to return internet connectivity to the Cuban people. The question is: Does the Biden administration have the "political will to do it?"
"Mr. Biden may be wary of upsetting the left and its romance with the Cuban regime," the WSJ wrote, "but the 2020 election showed that’s a losing strategy in Florida."
Demonstrations against Cuba's socialist government began July 11. People took to the streets to protest shortages of goods, rising prices, and power cuts.
The BBC reported Cuba went offline for less than 30 minutes, and then returned with intermittent outages. Officials blocked access to social media sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp.
Videos and photos of the demonstrations surfaced after sporadic access returned.
On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., called on Biden to authorize the U.S. to beam internet access for the Cuban people.
"I write to urge you 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 wrote in a letter Thursday to Biden.
Biden that day told reporters he and administration officials were "considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access."
When he was considering a run for president in 2016, Biden was critical of the Obama administration's approach to Cuba, according to WSJ.
Other regimes – the WSJ mentioned Iran, Egypt and Myanmar -- have attempted to stop dissent within their countries by stopping internet access.
A censorship-circumvention tool, Psiphon, has allowed some Cubans to access websites. Reuters reported Toronto-based Psiphon Network receives U.S. government financial support and also helped people in other countries (i.e. Iran, China) overcome governmental restrictions on internet access.
The WSJ reported the U.S. also could deploy high-altitude balloons, pioneered by Google start-up Loon, that float in international airspace. The technology was developed to connect remote and rural areas of the developing world
Loon and the government worked together to restore connectivity in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017.
What’s most needed, according to Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr last week, is the Biden administration to support the effort by directing various agencies to remove bureaucratic obstacles. The Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Administration are among those agencies.
WSJ also said Cuba officials could try to jam cellular signals, as it has Radio Marti, but that might interfere with the government’s wireless connectivity and would be technically hard to pull off countrywide.
Politico reported late last week that Florida's days as a battleground state depend on how Biden responds to the current situation in Cuba.
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