President Joe Biden has pledged a “concerted action” towards Cuba in response to its government’s suppression of protesters.
Biden made his comments when meeting with Cuban-American leaders at the White House on Friday afternoon. Since July 11, thousands of Cubans have been protesting their government over food shortages and the worst economic crisis the country has experienced in 30 years.
Specifically, Biden mentioned recent U.S. sanctions against Cuban police and military forces believed to be involved in the disappearing of native protesters. He also mentioned that the U.S. plans to help restore internet access to the island amid reports that the Cuban government had shut off citizen access.
Among those in attendance during Biden’s Friday remarks was New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, who had Cuban parents.
Biden’s full remarks are below:
I’m honored to welcome members of the Cuban-American community and Senator Menendez, to express how the United States is going to continue to stay with the Cuban people who have suffered for decades with their failed communist regime.
Earlier this month, Cubans took to the streets in a historic demonstration of the will of the people of Cuba, and the regime responded with violence and repression, mass detention and sham trials. People disappearing who have spoken out, just disappearing.
Family members, I am told, are not able, have no idea where their family members are back in Cuba, and it’s a brazen violation of the rights of the Cuban people. Cuban-Americans are hurting. They are hurting because their loved ones are suffering, and it’s quite frankly intolerable.
So I want the Cuban-Americans to know that we all around this table, and myself included, see your pain. We hear your voices and we heard the cries of freedom coming from the island.
The United States is taking concerted action to bolster the cause of the Cuban people. We brought to bear the strength of our diplomacy, rallying nations to speak out and increase pressure on the regime, and we are holding the regime accountable.
Last week, we sanctioned the head of the Cuban armed forces and a government entity called the Black Berets for their involvement in suppressing protesters. And today, we are adding sanctions against the Revolutionary National Police as well as individual sanctions against the chief and deputy chief. We are going to continue to add sanctions on individuals that carry out the regime’s abuses.
At the same time, we are increasing direct support for the Cuban people by pursuing every option available to provide internet access to help the Cuban people bypass the censorship that is being mandatorily imposed. You always know something is not going well when a country will not allow their people to be on the internet and being able to make their case known around the world.
And we are expanding our assistance for political prisoners and dissidents. I have directed the State Department and the Treasury Department to provide me, within one month, recommendations of how to maximize the flow of remittances to the Cuban people without the Cuban military taking their cut.
And we are working to increase U.S. staffing at our embassy while prioritizing the safety of our personnel. We’ve got a lot to discuss with this group. And mostly I am here to listen. I want to know what their ideas are. You are some of the best experts on the issue.
The first person to bring this to my attention and to make sure we are on top of this was Senator Menendez. And we think the Cuban-American people are actually the best ambassadors for the Cuban people. So my administration is going to make sure their voices are included and uplifted at every step of the way. And we are going to get down to business. Thank you all for bothering to come in.
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