“Communism is a failed system, a universally failed system. I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute, but that’s another story,” Biden told a reporter on Thursday, answering a question on Cuba during his joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was visiting Washington.
“Cuba is unfortunately a failed state and repressing their citizens,” Biden added.
Pres. Biden tells CBS News’ @stevenportnoy that “communism is a failed a system, a universally failed system.” The president goes on to say that Cuba has failed its citizens. He says he’s also determining if the U.S. has capabilities to reinstate internet access in the country. pic.twitter.com/p8MNPGmQLn
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 15, 2021
The US leader said there were “a number of things” his government was considering to help Cubans, but “they would require a different circumstance or a guarantee that they would not be taken advantage of by the government” of the island.
Allowing Cuban-Americans to send money to relatives was out of the question, he said, because it was “highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances or big chunks of it.”
Biden said he was willing to give a “significant amount of vaccine” to Cuba if some international organization would administer them “in a way that average citizens would have access to those vaccines.”
The demonstrations that broke out across the island on Sunday were reportedly sparked by the spread of COVID-19 and lack of vaccination.
I urge President Biden to assist in providing internet access to the people of Cuba standing up against communist oppression and demanding a voice after decades of suffering under a cruel dictatorship.https://t.co/fjSKNxuchW pic.twitter.com/br4iPHZ4k1
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 14, 2021
“Technology exists to provide internet access into Cuba remotely, using the innovation of American enterprise and the diverse industries here,” wrote DeSantis, adding that “our efforts must include creating a means for the Cuban people to speak to the world,” because that “may be the key to finally bringing democracy to the island.”
Another Republican, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, has suggested the US could launch a military intervention to overthrow the government of Cuba. Biden did not weigh in on that option, however.
Havana has denounced the weekend protests as “systemic provocation” by US-backed dissidents. Cuba has produced two of its own vaccines against COVID-19, the government said, blaming the fact that no more than a quarter of the population has been inoculated on syringe shortages caused by the US embargo.
Florida is home to a sizable population of Cubans who left the island since Fidel Castro and the Communist Party of Cuba took over from the US-backed military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
The US initially broke off diplomatic relations in 1960, and imposed a military blockade of the island in 1962, during a nuclear missile crisis with the Soviet Union.
Embassies only reopened in 2015, under Barack Obama’s administration in which Biden was vice president.
Restrictions reimposed under the Trump administration are among the few measures by his predecessor that Biden has not revoked yet.