The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved an amendment added to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution by Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to ensure anti-communism protesters in Cuba will receive internet access.
According to a press release from Rubio’s office, the amendment “would create a Deficit Neutral Reserve Fund (DNRF) in the forthcoming reconciliation bill to be used to build up and deploy existing technology on the island.”
“Today, my colleagues sent a clear, bipartisan message that the United States is committed to getting uncensored and unrestricted internet access to the people of Cuba,” Rubio said in the release. “The technology exists to do this without delay, and I urge the Biden Administration to begin moving forward immediately.”
“As the Cuban people take to the streets to call for freedom and democracy, and an end to the brutal, illegitimate communist Cuban regime, the United States must stand with these brave freedom fighters,” added Scott in an earlier statement. “The communist regime is terrified of the Cuban people, trying to cut off their communication with each other and the rest of the world and doing everything in its power to prevent them from shedding light on the regime’s oppression and atrocities.”
Rubio explained that Cubans’ access to the internet was crucial for the anti-regime protests that took hold of the country last month.
“Cubans had limited access to the internet, which allowed them to then go on social media, communicate with each other, communicate with the world,” he remarked. “As a result, they were able also to share with the world the true brutality of that regime by posting videos of what was happening.”
Freedom House, a non-profit non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights, scored Cuba 22 out of a 100 rating for internet freedom, saying that “Cuba has one of the lowest connectivity rates in the Western Hemisphere,” while regular internet access “remains extremely expensive, connections are poor, and authorities both monitor usage and work to direct traffic to the government-controlled intranet.”
A report from the Institute For War & Peace Reporting showed that Cuba’s sole internet provider functions on Huawei, TP-Link, and ZTE, while another report by the Open Observatory of Network Interference unveiled that traces of Chinese code were found in the interfaces used for internet access portals in Cuba.