McCarthy meets with GOP to push Biden on Cuba strategy amid historic protests
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with members on Wednesday of the 16-member GOP House Advisory Group on Cuba to discuss policy options to help Cuban protesters push back against " the communist regime to hold it accountable.
The group is weighing its legislative options, with members saying they are looking to work on it. Across the aisle and with the Biden administration to step up pressure on Cuba to allow peaceful protests in the face of violence and repression from Cuban officials. Following the advisory group's first meeting, McCarthy (R-Calif.) Said he plans to hold meetings in Miami, where members could hear eexperts and people affected by human rights violations.
"We have a lot of different ones that we were going to move forward on. The first thing we're going to do too is, you know, we have sent a letter to all the ambassadors, we have a letter to the president, [on] the actions that we think need to take place,” McCarthy told The Post.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy meets withs GOP lawmakers to discuss Cuba. Caleb Smith
"We want to make sure we invite Democrats to join us , we're going to have a full conference policy meeting next week to let everyone know where [we're] going, and we're talking about having a meeting in Miami.
Some of the biggest protests in the island's recent history have emerged in the wake of shortages of food, medicine, electricity and the internet. And lawmakers in the group have pledged to do everything in their power to help secure freedom in the country.
McCarthy announced earlier this month that he had appealed to GOP representatives Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimenez and Maria Salazar from Florida. , Nicole Malliotakis from New York, Anthony Gonzalez from Ohio, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, delegate from Puerto Rico, Devin Nunes, member of the claHouse Intelligence Committee, and Ken Calvert of California, Mark Green of Tennessee, Hal Rogers of Kentucky, Victoria Spartz of Indiana, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee Kay Granger of Texas, and Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington to serve on the panel, which was formed shortly thereafter. the start of protests to heat up.
A hoMs. waves a Cuban flag during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on July 11, 2021. AFP via Images
Salazar joined Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio for "a town hall on Fox's " Hannity "from News Wednesday night to call the Biden administration to " do more to help the Cuban people following the protests against the communist regime in Havana last week.
She and Rubio accused Biden of refusing to meet with them to discuss next steps.
“We are very frustrated. We are very upset, as we respectfully called and told the Biden administration that it had nothing to do with political parties.itiques, ”said host Sean Hannity, Salazar, whose district includes Little Havana in Miami. "He will not meet the spirit of us.
Florida Republicans call on Biden to" step up "following protest in Cuba Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says President Joe Bidenhad to do it. ..
"We have requested meetings," confirmed Rubio. "This has not happened so far.
Malliotakis said she was encouraged by the Biden administration's discussions on further sanctions, but believes that it needs to act faster to help secure the Internet on the island, so its people can communicate and get their message across.
"We are proposing measures that we believe the Biden administration should take to try and advance the cause of the Cuban people who want freedom. We are disappointed with the administration's response Biden so far, "she said.
The New York Republican, who was briefed by the State Department along with a handful of other members, said that she was encouraged by the fact that the administration had indicated that it would not lift the embargo, arguing that its lifting would "only further strengthen the regime which is aweakened at this time. She added that there are bipartisan measures she would like to see passed in the House.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel speaks during a revolutionary act of reaffirmation in Havana , July 17, 2021. AFP via Images
"What I think they must do a better job, it is that they have to work faster to get internet access on the island, so that people can continue to download these videos and the mwave can see both the protests and abuses of the regime that beats, imprisons and kidnaps, and shoots their own citizens. And the second thing is to really push democracies, freedom-loving countries around the world to join together and push in a united effort to rid the island of this illegitimate regime and bring freedom and democracy to the world. 'island,' she continued.
“We have a number of bipartite resolutions. I presented a bipartite resolution, also [Rep. Debbie] Wasserman [Schultz (D-Fla.)] Presented a resolution and so far it has not been put to a vote and we hope it will go to the Foreign Affairs Committee for a vote, ”she said.
"It shouldn't be difficult to side with freedom and condemn a brutal and murderous regime.
representing Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) said she was encouraged by the Biden administration 's speech on new sanctions. Images
A number of progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) - both socialists - slammed the embargo, with Sanders tweeting that he didn 't "only hurt, not help, the Cuban people ".
But GOP lawmakers blasted their argument, claiming that the Cuban regime controls how much money and what resources are made available to its citizens.
"Lhen you hear Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and others talking about lifting the embargo, they [Cuba] are doing business with almost every other country in the world and nothing hits people or money nor the drug, ”Malliotakis said.
Green echoed his calls to keep the embargo.
"Well we obviously have to keep the embargo in place, I mean 90% of the Cuban economy is managed by military holdings. So any lift The implementation of the embargo only further strengthens the regime, ”he said.
representing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has slammed the embargo. Images figcaption >
Green said one option they could move forward with is a resolution calling for the Cuban people to be allowed to have a First Amendment.
A potential avenue that lawmakers have considered in favor of creating a return channel to be able to communicate with allies in Cuba in a manner similar to the system the Trump administration has pursued with its allies in Iran .
McCaul, who has made his voice heard against the Cuban regime, stressed the importance of guaranteeing access to the Internet to enable Cubans to fight for their freedoms, noting the legislation he has adopted. and Senator Masha Blackburn (R- Tenn.) have worked to try to ensure access to open communication.
"The Open Technology Fund, as the Senateeur Blackburn and I licensed, helped fund a technology that is currently bypassing China. censorship in Cuba, ”he said.
representing Michael McCaul (R-Texas) a underlined the importance of ensuring access to the Internet to enable Cubans to fight for their freedoms. Images
" We estimate that nearly 1.3 million Cubans have access to the Internet thanks to initiatives supported by the Open Technology Fund. We need more tools like the OpenTechnology Fund to support people around the world who are fighting for their freedom, like the people of Cuba.
Gimenez said helping find technological solutions is a key element in helping Cuban protesters. to be able to protect against violation and add transparency to the situation on a larger platform.
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“We want Cubans to be able to communicate with themselves, but also with the outside world. We think that is a very, very important aspect of it because it was all organic, ”he said.
"So we think the Cubans, what they did was they tried to shut it down, and they did. So if we restore it, then organically the Cubans can start to organize again, and then can also protect themselves somewhat from the brutality of the regime by filming and then sending these signals.
Biden called the State Department at establish a working group on Monday to review the shipmentsof funds in order to ensure money sent to relatives in Cuba is received by those concerned and is not seized by the regime.