President Joe Biden stated on Thursday that the White House is evaluating whether the US can assist Cubans in regaining internet connection, in the aftermath of the Cuban government's blockage on internet in the country during the largest anti-government protests in decades.
According to NetBlocks, a global internet monitoring business, Cuba's government has restricted connectivity to social media and messaging services such as Facebook and WhatsApp as a result of the protests.
"They've cut off access to the internet. We're considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access," Biden told a joint White House news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Biden also stated that the US would be happy to provide COVID vaccinations to Cuba, which is creating its own vaccines due to the island country's economic crisis caused by the lockdown.
"They have a COVID problem in Cuba. I'd be prepared to give significant amounts of vaccine if in fact I was assured an international organization would administer those vaccines and do it in a way that average citizens would have access to those vaccines," Biden added.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, a Democrat, are those who have urged Biden's administration to restore Cuba's internet.
DeSantis stated at a news conference in Miami that the US government should take steps to strengthen internet access for Cubans and even using the US embassy in Havana as a staging ground.
Some lawmakers in the United States have proposed deploying satellite-based networks or high-altitude balloons to provide internet connectivity in Cuba.
"Time is of the essence here. Every day that the regime has to black out the truth is a day they can get the upper hand on this," DeSantis said of the Cuban government.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, called on Biden "to immediately authorize and allocate additional funding to provide internet to Cuba using the existing capacity of innovative American firms."
According to Reuters witnesses, there have been frequent and unexpected mobile data failures in Havana since Sunday.
Cubans have been able to access the internet thanks to Psiphon, an internet censorship circumvention tool financed by the US Agency for Global Media. Since the demonstrations began, the number of daily unique users in Cuba has increased to almost 146,000, according to US Senator Marsha Blackburn.