President Joe Biden will meet with Cuban-American leaders Friday to discuss new sanctions on the Cuban regime, CNN reported.
Demonstrations protesting Cuba's socialist government began July 11 amid a shortage of food, medical supplies, and power cuts intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and U.S. sanctions.
Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the White House on Sunday night to demand that the Biden administration do more to support the pro-democracy protesters in Cuba.
CNN reported Biden will meet at the White House with Felice Gorordo, CEO of eMerge Americas and co-founder of Roots of Hope; Yotuel Romero, the lead singer of Cuban hip-hop group Orishas and the author of Patria y Vida, the song that has become an anthem for the protesters; Ana Sofia Pelaez, founder of the Miami Freedom Project; and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.
The president also is expected to discuss efforts to establish internet access in Cuba, a White House official told CNN. Biden has said administration officials were working with civil society organizations and the private sector "to provide internet access to the Cuban people that circumvents the regime's censorship efforts."
Democrats have lost support among Cuban-Americans in Florida after former President Donald Trump took a tougher stance against the communist regime. Nearly half of the state's Hispanics voted for Trump in 2020, a nearly 10-point increase from four years earlier.
South Florida Democrats have urged party leaders to embrace the protests against Cuba's communist regime, CNN said.
After Cuban-American groups and members of Congress criticized the administration for not adopting a tough approach toward the Cuban government, the Biden administration last week sanctioned a key Cuban official and a government special forces unit (Boinas Negras) for human rights abuses in the wake of the protests.
Biden issued a statement condemning mass detentions and "sham trials" of protesters, and said the U.S. would "continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people."
Administration officials have been directed to examine remittances — the practice of Americans sending money to their Cuban relatives — to try and ensure the money goes to citizens and not to the Cuban government.
Then-candidate Biden said he would try to reverse Trump-era policies that "inflicted harm on Cubans and their families." But the administration's review of those policies remains ongoing.
Sources tell CNN the review unlikely will result in a return to the Obama-era policy of normalized relations with Havana.
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