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Biden Presses Cuba’s Leaders to Respect Peaceful Protests

BrexitJul 12, 2021 16:06
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(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Joe Biden said Cuba must respect the right to peaceful assembly after thousands of demonstrators crowded streets across the island nation to protest the regime and call for access to coronavirus vaccines and food.

“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.

The U.S. president went on to call for Cuba’s government “to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.”

Videos posted online over the weekend showed police attacking demonstrators, and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel called on his supporters to confront protesters in the streets during a televised address.

Biden’s statement comes after criticism from some Republican lawmakers, who seized on a tweet Sunday by Acting Assistant Secretary of State Julie Chung. She characterized the protests as oriented around “concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages.”

In a series of tweets and videos posted to the social media network, Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said it was “ridiculous” to frame the demonstrations as “simply because of COVID.” Rubio also criticized Biden for not commenting on the protests earlier.

Democrats have struggled with Cuban-American voters in recent years, with Republicans frequently attacking former President Barack Obama’s attempts to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. Former President Donald Trump won a majority of Florida’s Cuban-American vote in the 2020 election, according to network exit polls, and the Republican’s strong showing in Miami-Dade County helped propel him to victory in the state.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Biden Presses Cuba’s Leaders to Respect Peaceful Protests
 

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