President Joe Biden addressed unrest in Cuba on Thursday by calling communism “a failed system,” and said he was considering measures to aid Cubans that included Covid-19 vaccines and the provision of internet access.
“Communism is a failed system, universally failed system,” Biden told reporters at a joint press conference with German Prime Minister Angela Merkel. “I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute, but that is another story.”
He also called Cuba a “failed state” and said he was considering “a number of things” to help the Cuban people, but said “it would require a different circumstance or a guarantee” the measures “would not be taken advantage of by the government.” He said allowing Cubans to send remittances back to Cuba was one option that was off the table due to the fact it was “highly likely” the Cuban regime would confiscate them.
“We have a covid problem in Cuba,” he added. “I would be prepared to give significant amounts of vaccine if, in fact, I was assured that an international organization would administer those vaccines and do it in a way that average citizens have access to those vaccines.”
He also noted the regime had cut off access to internet services, and said the U.S. could take measures to remedy that situation. “We are considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access,” Biden said.
The comments came after Republicans widely criticized Biden for failing to address the unrest, though the commitments fell short of what many suggested. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) called on Tuesday for the administration to consider using airstrikes to support dissidents against the country’s 62-year-old communist regime, just a day before Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the United States should be prepared for “special forces from Russia” to arrive on the regime’s behalf. Both officials were born in Miami after their parents emigrated from Cuba.
Protests in the country began on Sunday in response to widespread shortages of basic goods. The country’s state-run telecommunications company, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA, cut internet access the same evening.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has sought to deflect blame for the unrest by attributing it to the U.S., and particularly Cuban Americans, to whom he referred as a “mafia.”
Speaking on Sunday, he said, “As if pandemic outbreaks had not existed all over the world, the Cuban American mafia, paying very well on social networks to influencers and YouTubers, has created a whole campaign … and has called for demonstrations across the country.”
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