The authoritarian and communist regime of Cuba is a “failed state” and universally, communism is a “failed system,” President Joe Biden said while speaking from the White House on Thursday.
“Communism is a failed system—a universally failed system. And I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute, but that’s another story,” Biden said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Biden’s remarks were the strongest signal yet by the president in support of Cubans demonstrating against the ruling regime of leader Miguel Diaz-Canel—also the head of the Cuban Communist Party.
He also addressed that his administration is “considering” ways to possibly reinstate access to the internet for people on the island nation after the regime disrupted citizens from their online communications in the wake of the biggest anti-government protests in decades.
“We’re considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access,” Biden said.
The president also indicated that for now, they are not considering re-establishing the U.S. to Cuba remittances because it’s “highly likely” that the regime would confiscate the funds.
“There are a number of things that we would consider doing to help the people of Cuba, but it would require a different circumstance or a guarantee that they would not be taken advantage of by the [Cuban] government,” Biden said. “For example, the ability to send remittances back to Cuba. I would not do that now because the fact is it’s highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances or big chunks of it.”
Starting over the past weekend, thousands of Cubans have openly demonstrated against the authoritarian regime and called for leader Diaz-Canel to step down. Some demonstrators, as well as Cubans in the United States, have called on the Biden administration to intervene amid mass arrests of demonstrators by the regime.
Biden’s remarks that they “consider” to aid Cubans came as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) asked the president in a letter to provide federal assistance to the citizens of the island nation as well as help them with internet access.
“I write to urge you to assist in providing Internet access to the people of Cuba standing up against communist oppression and demanding a voice after decades of suffering under the yoke of a cruel dictatorship,” the Republican governor wrote in the letter (pdf).
“As you know, the Cuban people are taking to the streets to protest the Communist regime, and the Cuban government has responded with violence,” he said. “At first, the world could see the images and videos of this mass movement, but now the tyrannical regime of President Miguel Diaz-Canel has shut off access to the internet.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday during a separate press briefing also called communism a “failed ideology,” explaining that Cubans “deserve freedom.”
“They deserve a government that supports them, whether that is making sure they have health and medical supplies, access to vaccines, or whether they have economic opportunity and prosperity,” Psaki said.
“This has been a government—an authoritarian, communist regime—that has repressed its people and has failed the people of Cuba, hence we’re seeing them in the streets,” she continued.
Amid the demonstrations, activists told news outlets this week that more than 100 people have been arrested, detained, or are simply missing in a regime-led clampdown.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.