“This is huge,” said Sasha Tirador, a top Miami politician who was informed of the plans on Wednesday evening.
“No government has ever announced that it will hold everyone accountable who violates human rights on the island of Cuba,” she said.
Tirador and others on the call were initially frustrated that Biden did not immediately respond with a response plan for Cuba after the uprising, as Cuban-American Republicans such as Miami-based Senator Marco Rubio began to question the government’s resolve.
Conservative criticism of Biden’s Cuba reaction has escalated significantly in recent days as several high-profile commentators, members of Congress, and hopefuls of the Republican White House 2024 use the riots to hammer the government’s foreign policy – and at the same time the GOP on anti-communist issues mobilize.
They also asked Biden to give the go-ahead to a proposal to launch high-altitude balloons to bring internet access to the island, but the president and administrators have been let off the idea because they’re not sure it will work . Instead, on the Wednesday night call, government officials said they were working on an alternative way to provide internet access or so-called virtual private networks or VPNs so Cubans on the island can communicate freely without the regime being spied on.
Around the same time that the Miami Democrats were informed, Sean Hannity of Fox News arrived in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood and devoted his one-hour weekday show to the protests of Cuba, hosting the program live from Calle Ocho, and presenting guests, including Rubio, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and Rep. María Salazar (R-Fla.).
Hannity accused the president of “great cowardice” and asked at one point on the program: “What is the Biden Doctrine? To kiss the ass of every single, lonely dictator in the world? “
Following widespread anti-government protests in more than 40 cities across the island, government officials began accelerating efforts to develop a Cuba plan last week.
Before the protests, Biden’s team made it clear again and again that the Cuban policy was not a foreign policy priority of the government. But the protests made the communist-led island nation an inevitable issue.
Progressives on Twitter were appalled that Biden would tighten sanctions and apparently reverse his campaign promise from last year to lift restrictions imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2017 Questioned skeptics whether targeted sanctions would work.
Rubio, who helped draft these Trump-era sanctions, was silent about Biden’s plans but said in one tweet that Biden should approve the Internet access plan and bring VPN Internet services to the island.
Trump, for his part, claimed without evidence in a Telemundo interview on Wednesday that if he were still President, “the Cuban Missile Crisis may now be over because” [Cuban regime officials] were ready to give it up. “
Cuba’s totalitarian government has been in existence for 62 years and has 13 US presidents.
Trump also attributed his policies in Latin America to the growing support he enjoyed from voters in Florida, with roots in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Colombia. And progressive critics of Biden suggested that politics feed into his Cuba proposals.
In their conference call on Wednesday, the Biden government had told attendees that it had planned to announce the new Cuba policy at 10.30 a.m., but no announcement had been made by noon, despite an administrative official who later reported POLITICO to The Washington confirmed mail. Participants in the conference call included Miami-Dade Mayor Daniela Levine Cava, Florida Democratic Party leader, Manny Diaz, Florida State Senator, Annette Taddeo, Former Rep. Joe Garcia, and Former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell , Hispanic outreach specialist Jose Parra, pollster Fernand Amandi, local radio personality Enrique Santos and Cuba politician Carlos Saladrigas.
Everyone praised Cuba’s policy proposals, and many said it was a new opportunity for the United States to realign politics on the island, and perhaps Florida as well.
On Monday, the Biden government announced that it would form a working group to consider transfers for Cuban families and consider adding staff to the US embassy in Havana.
Several people near the White House confirmed last week that US officials are investigating Magnitsky, which also allows the US to impose economic sanctions on anyone believed to be involved in human rights abuses and corruption.
“As @POTUS we will impose tougher sanctions on Cuban officials who orchestrated these human rights violations, ”said Julie Chung, Deputy Foreign Minister for the Western Hemisphere, posted on twitter on Thursday after meeting a Cuban human rights activist.
Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and a Cuban-American Democrat, has been a key figure in talks with the government, said several people close to the White House. New Jersey’s Menendez has called on the Biden government to maintain tough sanctions against Cuba and work to build international support against the Cuban regime.
“I think it is important that the government send a clear message that violence and repression against peaceful demonstrators are not only condemnable, but can also take action against them,” Menendez told POLITICO last week.
Quint Forgey contributed to this report.