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Biden: 'We Stand With the Cuban People'

President backs demonstrations, but critics say support didn't come fast enough
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2021 1:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Rare demonstrations in Cuba on Sunday have drawn the public support of President Biden, along with criticism from Republicans who say the White House was too slow to weigh in. Coverage:

  • Biden: "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 in a statement Monday morning. He called on the Cuban government to "hear their people." The statement can be read in full here.
  • Blame game: Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel went on national TV Monday and blamed Cuban-Americans in the US for stirring up resentment on social media, reports the AP. ‘’We've seen how the campaign against Cuba was growing on social media in the last weeks,'' he said. ‘’That's the way it's done: Try to create inconformity, dissatisfaction by manipulating emotions and feelings." Cuban police were out in force in the capital on Monday.

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  • Behind the protests: People took to the streets en masse in Havana and other Cuban cities to protest shortages of food, medicine, and COVID vaccines, but "the loudest cries were for an end to the Communist regime," per NPR. (The outlet interviewed Miami Herald reporter Nora Gomez Torres.) Protesters were calling for the end of Diaz-Canel's rule, and "unprecedented" images emerged of overturned police cars and people throwing stones at officers. Protesters in Miami supported them in protests of their own in "Little Havana," notes NBC Miami.
  • Criticism of Biden: GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both of whom are Cuban-American, were among those tweeting early support for the protesters and criticizing the White House for taking too long to respond, reports Politico. "The people of #Cuba bravely take to the streets against 62 years of socialist tyranny," tweeted Rubio on Sunday. "12 hours later President @JoeBiden @POTUS has yet to say a word about it.” Cruz, for his part, wrote (before Biden's response): "What is it with the Biden administration? The Cuban people are fighting for freedom against an illegitimate tyrannical regime that is willing to torture and kill to stay in power. American leaders must say so and condemn the regime and its brutality - unequivocally."
  • From the right: At the conservative Red State, Joe Cunningham writes that Democrats have a problem. "As the Democratic Party supports, allies itself with, and even mimics a lot of the policies (of) communist governments" in Latin America, Latino voters are jumping ship to the Republican Party, he writes. Fox News, meanwhile, called out self-described Democratic socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and Rashida Tlaib for not publicly reacting to the protests quickly.
(Read more Cuba stories.)

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