Rubio slams Biden administrator’s “major failure” to initially link Cuban protests to increase in COVID cases

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EXCLUSIVE: Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Criticizes President Biden’s administration for its initial diagnosis of the causes of the mass protests that erupted in Cuba on Sunday.

In a statement provided to Fox News, Rubio said that more than 60 years of “socialist dictatorship and oppression, as well as extraordinary courage on the part of the Cuban people, have led to this historic moment.”

His message was at odds with the State Department, which initially linked the historic protests in Cuba to concerns over COVID-19 rather than the country’s communist government.

UNITED STATES - MAY 26: Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Heads to the Senate subway after a vote at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
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UNITED STATES – MAY 26: Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Heads to the Senate subway after a vote at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
((Photo by Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images))

Rubio called the accusation – along with the president’s silence this weekend – a “major failure”.

“Now more than ever, the Cuban people need our support as they fight for their freedom,” said Rubio.

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Fox News contacted the State Department which referred to a statement by President Biden on Monday praising Cuban protesters for making a “call for freedom and help” and called on the Cuban government to allow peaceful protests.

“We stand by the Cuban people and their clear call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and the decades of repression and economic suffering to which it has been subjected by the authoritarian regime in Cuba,” he said. Biden said.

“The Cuban people courageously claim fundamental and universal rights,” the president continued, adding that these rights, “including the right to demonstrate peacefully and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected.”

“The United States calls on the Cuban regime to listen to its people and meet their needs at this vital time rather than getting rich,” Biden said.

Police arrest a person during protests against and in favor of the government, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2021.

Police arrest a person during protests against and in favor of the government, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2021.
(Reuters)

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has sought to ensure that the protests are motivated by much wider frustration, calling the protests “spontaneous expressions of people exhausted by mismanagement. economic and repression of the Cuban government “.

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She added that the United States remained ready to help Cuba in its COVID-19 vaccination effort, but the Cuban government’s decision not to participate in COVAX – a global initiative to distribute vaccines to the poorest countries – complicated the effort.

“We certainly recognize and understand that access to vaccines is one of the issues that preoccupy a number of people on the streets, but we need to determine what the mechanism would be to work with the Cuban people to provide them with vaccines,” “said Psaki.

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Later Monday, Rubio sent Biden a letter saying that the current protests in Cuba “are not just about current economic shortages” but “the deliberate and long-standing actions taken by the dictatorship to impede economic prosperity and political freedom. of the Cuban people “.

In his letter, Rubio provided President Biden with six steps his administration should take to support the Cuban people.

Brooke Singman of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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