#SOSCuba: Cuban protests receive bipartisan support from Florida elected officials

Political leaders across Florida express solidarity with Cubans protesting dictatorship

Government supporters march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, July 11, 2021, shortly before an anti-government protest. Hundreds of demonstrators went out to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco) (Ismael Francisco, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla, – Florida elected officials took to social media to express their support for the thousands of Cubans marching across the island to protest food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis.

Sunday’s outpouring in Havana and across Cuba was one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in memory, reports The Associated Press. Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, along with a resurgence of coronavirus cases, and protesters chanted “Freedom,” “Enough” and “United.”

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Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis joined the chorus of voices Sunday expressing his support for Cubans demanding their freedom using the hashtag “SOSCuba” on social media.

“Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana,” DeSantis said on Twitter Sunday. “The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades & is now trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies #SOSCuba

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, a Cuban-American, echoed that sentiment, writing “for over six decades, the despotic Castro regime in Cuba has deprived its people of life and economic liberty. The images we are seeing from across the island are an outcry as shortages of basic necessities have become commonplace.”

Democratic Rep. Val Demings, of Orange County, added her support to Cubans demanding basic rights.

“America stands for freedom. We must stand with the peaceful demonstrators in Cuba as they struggle for theirs — not only freedom from tyranny and dictatorship, but freedom from disease, poverty, and corruption,” Demings said. “The White House must move swiftly. Freedom shall and must prevail.”

“We stand with the Cuban people both here and on the Island to demand democracy, food, vaccines and freedom!” Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, of Osceola County, wrote.

One of the most vocal responses to the uprising in Cuba was that of Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida. Rubio is the son of parents who came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956.

The Republican began firing off a series of Tweets early Sunday sharing video and images from the island.

“Even in the smallest towns they take to the streets in #Cuba today,” he wrote, sharing a video of hundreds of people marching down a street.

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The Senator was also critical of President Joe Biden’s lack of response after 12 hours of protests Sunday.

“The people of #Cuba bravely take to the streets against 62 years of socialist tyranny,” Rubio wrote. 12 hours later President @joebiden @POTUS has yet to say a word.”

On Monday, the White House released a statement offering solidarity for the people of Cuba and criticizing the authoritarian regime.

“The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves,” the statement reads.

Biden later released his own comments, asking the Cuban regime to honor its citizens’ demands for basic human rights.

“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” Biden’s statement said. “The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.”

Though the president’s statement came hours after the unrest, acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State of Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung responded to the protests on social media Sunday night.

“Peaceful protests are growing in #Cuba as the Cuban people exercise their right to peaceful assembly to express concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages,” she wrote. “We commend the numerous efforts of the Cuban people mobilizing donations to help neighbors in need.”

Chung, the highest-ranking Biden Administration official to respond to the protests Sunday, later added:

“We are deeply concerned by ‘calls to combat’ in #Cuba. We stand by the Cuban people’s right for peaceful assembly. We call for calm and condemn any violence.”