Sen. Marco Rubio calls on President Biden to act, says Cuba regime forcing children ‘to join street mobs’

Florida senator wants US State Department, White House to call for UN emergency meeting

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sen. Marco Rubio is increasing his calls for President Joe Biden to aid the people of Cuba who need food and medical supplies as support in Central Florida continues to grow for people demanding change in the communist country.

Protesters even blocked part of Semoran Boulevard in Orlando Tuesday night as hundreds gathered there and now, new tweets overnight from Rubio are raising questions about the tense situation in Cuba.

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Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, has been sharing images and videos he says show scenes from the uprising in Cuba. The Republican senator wrote in a tweet, “It’s been 72 hours since protests started. The situation is spiraling out of control. We need to act NOW!”

The Orlando demonstration Tuesday resulted in one arrest after the crowd blocked a part of Semoran Boulevard during rush-hour traffic, according to Orlando police. One man was seen holding a sign that read, “Castros are murderers” in Spanish. Demonstrators also shut down traffic in Miami and Jacksonville Tuesday.

“It is time. It is time for Cuba to be free,” said Sara Cave, who joined the protest at Sedano’s off Curry Ford Road.

In Cuba, people continue protesting in the streets against the country’s communist regime. Rubio said the internet, power and even water has been shut off on the island. The senator shared videos on Twitter showing the military forcing teenagers out of their homes to go out and fight against their own people.

“They are barging into homes & killing in the streets,” the senator said in a tweet.

Sunday marked the first demonstrations to take place in Havana and Cuba in one of the biggest anti-government movements, according to The Associated Press.

In response, 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.

Biden is facing increased pressure from Republican lawmakers for his administration to step up support of Cuban demonstrators.

Republicans have accused Biden — who said as a presidential candidate that he would revert to Obama-era policies that loosened decades of embargo restrictions on Havana — of not being supportive enough of Cuban dissidents.

Democrats, meanwhile, are unhappy that Biden has yet to reverse Trump’s hard-line approach to the island’s communist government as his administration carries out its review of Cuban policy.

Rubio and Rep. Carlos Gimenez, a freshman lawmaker who represents a Miami district, are among elected officials this week who called on the administration to maintain Trump’s Cuba policy.

They also called on Biden to aid the protesters, including by making free satellite internet access available on the island to subvert the Cuban government’s effort to stop activists from broadcasting their messages on social media to the world.

Gimenez said in an interview that simply maintaining the status quo is not enough at a moment when the island is seeing some of the most intense protests in more than 60 years — what Biden himself referred to as a “clarion call for freedom.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Authors:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!