Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has criticized the Biden administration for its original diagnosis of the causes of the mass protests that broke out in Cuba recently.
Rubio slammed the administration’s explanation of the protests as being tied to rising COVID cases as a “major failure.”
In a statement, Rubio said that more than 60 years of “socialist dictatorship and oppression, as well as extraordinary courage from the Cuban people, have led to this historic moment.”
Rubio’s message contradicted the State Department, which initially tied the Cuban protests to COVID-19 worries rather than as a response to the country’s communist government regime.
“Now more than ever, the Cuban people need our support as they fight for their freedom,” the senator said.
When queried, the State Department referred back to a statement by President Biden praising Cuban protesters for releasing a “clarion call for freedom and relief.”
The president also called on the Cuban government to allow peaceful protest.
“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 said.
“The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their future, must be respected,” he continued.
When pressed, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tried to frame the protests as being driven by frustration.
She called the demonstrations “spontaneous expressions of people who are exhausted with the Cuban government’s economic mismanagement and repression.”
Psaki stated that the U.S. is ready to help Cuba with its COVID-19 vaccination push but that the socialist Cuban government has chosen not to participate in COVAX.
COVAX is a worldwide initiative aimed at distributing vaccines to poorer, less-developed nations.
“We certainly recognize and understand that access to vaccines is one of the issues that several individuals on the streets are voicing concern about, but we have to determine what the mechanism would be to work with the Cuban people to get vaccines to them,” Psaki said.
Rubio responded by sending the president a letter saying that the Cuban protests “are not just about current economic shortages.”
Instead, he explained that the protests are about “longstanding and deliberate actions taken by the dictatorship to stymie the economic prosperity and political freedom of the Cuban people.”
Sen. Rubio also slammed Twitter for not blocking officials from Cuba’s regime.
“They’re hypocrites,” he said. Rubio said that social media has “double standard” policies for not blocking a Cuban socialist dictator amid the ongoing rallies against communism.
“I’m not in favor of Twitter banning anybody, but if they’re going to do it, if you’re going to go after American politicians and block their tweets, censor their tweets and even deny them access to these platforms, then you have to do it to a brutal dictator who’s on Twitter, along with other members of the regime … inciting people to take to the streets and attack, maim, hurt and kill their fellow countrymen,” Rubio said.