Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he wants Florida companies to provide internet connections to Cubans as the island enters its third day of protests amid widespread internet closures that have disrupted the flow of information.

“What does the regime do when you start seeing these images?” They shut down the internet. “They do not want the truth to come out, they do not want people to be able to communicate,” DeSantis said during a roundtable discussion with Republican lawmakers and members of the Cuban community in exile in Miami.

“And so, one of the things I think we need to be able to do with our private companies or with the United States is provide a piece of this internet via satellite. “We have companies in the Spatial Coast that release these things,” he added.

Without giving details on how to activate remote hotspots to give Cubans WiFi connections, DeSantis added that he would make some calls to “see what the options are” to accomplish that.

During the roundtable at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, DeSantis joined Lt. Gov. Jeannette Nu, I and U.S. Republicans Maria Elvira Salazar and Carlos Gimenez. Lawmakers and other Republican state senators were also present.

“Everyone here agrees on all these basic truths and one of those truths is that people who are on the streets revolting are not complaining about the lack of vaccines or any tangential issues,” DeSantis said. “They are rebelling against a corrupt, communist dictatorship that has ruled that island with an iron fist for more than 60 years.”

Rosa Maria Payá, a Cuban activist and executive director of the Pan American Democracy Foundation, said that in addition to the US providing Cuba with internet service, she would like the Biden administration to say it will not negotiate with the Cuban government during a transition from communism.

What Cubans need is “freedom from dictatorship,” not negotiation, Paya said, adding that giving people on the island a way to communicate with the outside world is vital. “The United States has the capacity to provide Internet access to the Cuban people. Internet access can now save lives in the midst of oppression. “

Salazar agreed with DeSantis and others who attended the roundtable on the plan to provide internet service in Cuba as a way to keep up the momentum and show the world how the protests are going.

“If the world does not know what is happening to those Cubans on the streets, then who will help?” said Salazar, adding that she believed U.S. military intervention on the island is not “what we need to do now.

“I assure you that this will not be necessary because the Cubans will take care of it,” she added.

MIAMI Protesters Block Palmeton

As DeSantis hosted the roundtable in front of a black background saying “SOS CUBA”, hundreds of Miami protesters who took to the streets in solidarity with Cubans on the island blocked part of the Palmetto Highway for more than an hour.

The Miami protests mark just over three months since DeSantis signed the so-called “anti-mob” legislation into law in response to the 2020 summer demonstrations against racism and police reform sparked by the assassination of George Floyd. in Minneapolis. New Florida law makes blocking a highway a criminal offense, among other things.

Similar: DeSantis signs ‘anti-riot’ legislation in Polk County

When asked about the protests in Miami, DeSantis instead spoke about the protests in Cuba and how they are “substantially different” from last year’s protests.

“I think people understand the difference between going out and gathering peacefully, which is definitely the constitutional right of people, and attacking other people or burning buildings or pulling people out of a car and doing it,” DeSantis said. “What I think was happening in Cuba is that these are people who are rebelling against a communist dictatorship,” he said. They are not necessarily … designed to be peaceful. They are trying to end the regime. “


Dr. Alex Crowther, a professor at the International University of Florida, said there are two possible ways to secure internet access on the island. But both have big catches.

“One is the use of balloons, the way they did when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and Peru was hit by the earthquake,” he said. “A company called Loon, which was owned by Alphabet [the conglomerate that owns Google] used to make them. But the company just closed earlier this year. ”

Crowther said the balloons could still be used as transmitters to connect Cubans online, but that would require their flight over Cuban airspace, where they could crash. If the balloons were to be held 12 miles offshore, outside Cuban airspace, the signal would only reach coastal areas, and you would still need to have someone on land to receive and retransmit the signal.

The other method would be to use an integrated transmitter and receiver plate (TRIA) that processes signals from and to a ground-based unit and an orbiting satellite. This is the system that Elon Musk’s Starlink company uses to provide Internet access in remote rural areas around the US

But the problem with those dishes is a practical one: How to get the Cubans to pieces. Installation is no different than installing a satellite TV dish, and Crowther said instructions can be transmitted via radio waves.

“But unlike food and rescue supplies, you can’t just throw them off a plane,” Crowther said. “Those points would fall sharply. “You will have to be able to hand it over to people.”

And even in a possible scenario that someone in Cuba could link their satellite connection, they would risk disclosure by the authorities if they tried to turn their connection into a public hotspot.

“The Soviets and their clients are very good at war radio,” Crowther said. “So once you start broadcasting in Cuba, they would be over you.”