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Biden Under Pressure Regarding Protests for Cuba

As her passions reached a new height, Maria Busto demanded action from President Joe Biden. 

Protests have erupted in Cuba under #SOSCuba and garnered attention throughout the states, especially in Florida. The immediate causes for such passionate reactions from Cuban Americans in the states, like Busto, are from the authoritarian regime of Cuba dominating their society. 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba is experiencing a sudden rise in cases, and the government has been criticized for lacking in their response. Economic recession and lack of growth has hurt many families and caused the situation to escalate at a rapid pace. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, as there have been many problems seen in Cuba before.

The people of Cuba have been repressed ever since the beginning of the Castro administration. This was seen under the presidency of Ronald Regan, when many people fled from Cuba in search of a better life when the communist regime took effect. Many descendants of those who originally came then have been speaking out on the current situation.

Busto is a Cuban American who was born in the U.S. after her father immigrated during the Reagan presidency. She recently participated in a protest demanding action and liberation for the Cuban people.  

She had a strong choice of words toward the situation at large and wished to express her passion for the Cuban people.

“My people in Cuba are being hurt, they are being oppressed, and finally we are able to speak for them and let the world know about what is going on over there,” Busto told the Florida Political Review. 

Many politicians and government officials have been speaking out on this situation. 

In a letter to Biden, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava wrote that this is a crucial moment for Americans and the Cuban people. She showed her support by stating how we are united with those under the communist regime. 

Others have seen this as a key opportunity for Biden to capitalize on following his low amount of votes among Cuban voters in Florida. 

“The president has not stepped out or spoken about anything,” said Busto, “Step up, show face, and protect human rights; give them a chance for what we have in our country.”  

Many Democrats have coined this as a “golden opportunity,” a chance for Biden to have a historic, defining moment of his presidency and a chance to rebuild the damage from the last presidential election. Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami-Dade, even stated, “This is a ‘Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall’ opportunity!” 

Former President Donald Trump won more of the Latino vote in 2020 than he did in 2016 against Secretary Hillary Clinton, showing a swing in Cuban support toward the former president in particular. 56% of Cuban voters supported Trump, while 42% went to Biden. 

While Florida proved not necessary for Biden’s pathway to victory, winning the state would have secured his win at a much earlier time. Florida went blue for the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012, but recently the state has been flipping red in more recent elections.

Democrats saw this swing as a failure of the party, and others have warned of possible detrimental consequences if another election cycle repeats with these same voter patterns. The results of the 2022 midterm elections will be key in deciding how the rest of Biden’s term plays out; Cuban voter outreach may be a possible decider for key races in Florida. 

A breakdown of the Cuban American voting bloc in Florida’s 2020 Presidential Election. (David Leckband/Florida Political Review)

This has prompted responses urging Biden to do more for the Cuban people. In a press release, Manny Diaz, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, stated, “I am calling on the Biden Administration to coordinate the proper response. People in the streets of Havana and Palma Soriano are justly calling for ‘homeland and life’ while waving Cuban and American flags. This is not a partisan issue, but rather one that should unite our entire community.”  

With the protests still occurring, including a March in Washington D.C. on July 26, and pressure building from many government officials, Biden has taken some action in recent weeks to address the issue.

These actions have taken the form of pressuring Cuba economically, specifically targeting members of the Cuban government.

In a statement on July 22, Biden announced new sanctions be placed on the Cuban government. “This is just the beginning,” the President stated in response to actions his administration is taking in addressing the ongoing crisis as the situation continues to unfold.

Some have criticized the administration’s response as too slow and not doing enough. Republican lawmakers in particular are taking aim at the administration’s position on barring Cuban refugees seeking political asylum. 

With all these events occurring, the Biden administration is working to decide its next move in addressing the Cuban crisis. As the protests continue and lawmakers speak out, Biden is faced with a legacy-defining moment. 

Check out other recent articles from Florida Political Review here.

Featured Image: President Joe Biden delivers remarks to Department of Defense personnel. Photo credit to Lisa Ferdinando, unmodified photo used under a Creative Commons License. (https://bit.ly/3fH8qtH)

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