‘He’s basically just sitting there doing nothing’: Ron DeSantis hits out at Biden over Cuba

‘He’s basically just sitting there doing nothing’: Ron DeSantis hits out at Biden over Cuba
Criticism comes days after Democrat said island’s Communist government was a ‘failure’

Ron DeSantis has hit out at President Joe Biden over recent protests in Cuba, which he said the US president was “doing nothing” about.

Florida’s Republican governor told Fox News anchor Sean Hannity on Wednesday that the Biden administration was not only “doing nothing” to help Cubans in the middle of a social, economic and political crisis, but was “leaving these folks out to dry”.

The remarks, as reported by the New York Post, follow Cubans taking to the streets in their thousands on 11 July, outraged by shortages of food and medicine that have been exacerbated by a Covid outbreak and sanctions imposed by the US governments of Donald Trump and Mr Biden.

Other Cubans called for a change in the country’s own communist government, which has accused Biden administration officials of a false “narrative of a bad government and people fighting for their freedom”, and based on “stereotypes”. It follows Mr Biden calling Cuba a “failed state” last week.

Mr DeSantis, who is still calling for tougher words and action from the Biden administration, told Mr Hannity that the US could restore internet access to Cuba, and that it was within Mr Biden’s “authority to do that”.

“[But] As it stands now, he’s basically just sitting there doing nothing,” added the governor. “He’s leaving these folks out to dry, and what’s gonna end up happening, if they don’t get any type of assistance, is the regime will continue to clamp down, and they’ll eventually stamp this out and then they’ll remain even stronger in power, and that will be a huge blow to the cause of freedom.”

A Cuban foreign ministry spokesperson, Johana Tablada, told The Associated Press this week that US analysis of the crisis was based on “stereotypes that scare anyone who has never set foot in Cuba, because of their arrogance and disregard for the truth”, in reference to critique of the country’s ruling party, and Mr Biden’s criticism of it.

The Democrat, who risks falling support among Cuban-Americans without supporting the anti-government protests, is also under pressure from Republican figures such as Mr DeSantis who have seized an opportunity to pitch the Cuba crisis as one of “freedom” against “socialism”.

Human Rights Watch, a non-profit, said on Wednesday that about 500 protesters had been arrested by Cuba’s authorities, with reports of one death, and violence.

Additional reporting by the AP.

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