Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday bluntly described the Cuban regime as the “centerpiece of any malign actor who wants to be involved in the Western Hemisphere against American interests” and took issue with an official of the Biden administration who asserted that the protests were triggered by a vaccine shortage and others who stated the protests were about a lack of groceries.
Speaking at a highly charged roundtable where people who have fled the repressive Cuban government along with other Cuban expatriates spoke about the massive protests against the communist regime in Cuba, DeSantis said, “If you go into it thinking they’re upset about a vaccine shortage or they’re upset that there’s not enough groceries in the store, but they just want the regime to change a few things around and kind of rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, if that’s what you think, then you clearly have no hope of getting a favorable outcome.”
Before DeSantis answered questions, Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo, founder of Cuba Decide, listed actions the United States government should take to support the Cuban people, including no negotiations with the dictatorship, providing internet access to the Cuban people so that the Cuban regime could not shut communication down, targeting the regime with sanctions, stopping businesses from doing business with the dictatorship, and leading an effort by other countries in the Western Hemisphere to join in a move against the Cuban regime.
DeSantis stated, “We have people here who were in the Bay of Pigs and they remember the Soviet involvement in Cuba from the 1960’s on. Now you have China, and they are involved in Venezuela — and oh, by the way — now is not the time to be taking away sanctions on Venezuela: that’s gonna end up helping the Cuban government. Obviously it will help the dictatorship in Venezuela as well.”
“So, I think that you have the potential for a lot of hostile influences in the Western Hemisphere and in that Cuban regime is the centerpiece of any malign actor who wants to be involved in the Western Hemisphere against American interests,” he asserted. “The first place you go is to Havana and you make common cause with them. And so they have caused — if you look at the Western Hemisphere since the regime seized power, Havana has been the focal point of almost all the problems in the Western Hemisphere. The majority of the problems emanate from there. When you see some of these other Marxist regimes that have Cuban dictatorship’s fingerprints on it every single time, that regime’s existence has obviously been very devastating to millions of people’s lives. It’s been very hostile to American interests consistently for over 60 years every step of the way.”
Asked what steps he would take, DeSantis replied, “I think if you look at what Rosa Maria said, I think she outlined a number of very forceful steps that could be taken to be able to stand in solidarity with the people of Cuba and I think that those would be very much appreciated and could be done immediately. How this develops and how things would happen, this is a very dynamic and fluid situation but I would say at a minimum, if we’re understanding the stakes, understanding why people are revolting, and we’re siding with the Cuban people, you could probably get a lot of the policies right at that point. If you go into it thinking they’re upset about a vaccine shortage or they’re upset that there’s not enough groceries in the store, but they just want the regime to change a few things around and kind of rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, if that’s what you think, then you clearly have no hope of getting a favorable outcome.”