Cuba
Rubio Pitches Internet Balloons Over Cuba
Republican and Democrat lawmakers are weighing their options on how to restore internet access and communications in Cuba.

Republican and Democrat lawmakers are weighing their options on how to restore internet access and communications in Cuba.

Senators Call For Solidarity With Protestors in Cuba

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called on President Joe Biden this week to "immediately authorize and allocate funding to provide emergency connectivity to the internet for Cuba through balloon-supplied internet coverage."

Shortly after widespread public protests erupted against the Cuban government on July 11, the six-decade-oldregime censored the internet. 

We are working with the private sector and Congress to identify ways for the Cuban people to have greater access to Internet service

Republican and Democrat lawmakers are weighing their options on how to restore internet access and communications in Cuba.

One solution that has been discussed in Washington is deploying sophisticated high-altitude balloons made by Raven Aerostar to deliver wireless internet access from above, a method the US government used in Puerto Rico four years ago when Hurricane Maria destroyed the island's infrastructure.

Raven previously worked with Google's parent company Alphabet on the extinct Loon project. Raven continues to manufacture high-tech balloons for a variety of applications.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called on President Joe Biden this week to "immediately authorize and allocate funding to provide emergency connectivity to the internet for Cuba through balloon-supplied internet coverage."

"I am all for creating internet access in Cuba in a way that it will work, that the regime will have the hardest time jamming it and the administration has got a full court press to see how that happens," the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), told LPO.

Menendez is considering multiple options for how to restore the internet in Cuba. "The balloon has an omnidirectional signal," Menendez told LPO on Thursday afternoon, "I know the balloon is there, I know the signal comes out, I bought it. My goal is that the Cuban people have internet access, that might be satellite, it might be another way, I am not a technology expert."

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar urges Biden to help the people of Cuba now

Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) has a stronger stance on how to approach the situation in Cuba. The lawmaker said to LPO, "I support lifting the embargo and normalization of relations," said Ossoff.

A chorus of Senate Democrats - from Richard Blumenthal (CT) to Amy Klobuchar (MN) to Cory Booker (NJ to Bernie Sanders (VT) - agree with the freshman Ossoff. So do Senators Jerry Moran (KS) and Rand Paul (TN) on the Republican side of the aisle in the upper chamber of Congress.

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) supports easing restrictions on Cuba on essential imports like food and medicines. 

I am all for creating internet access in Cuba in a way that it will work, that the regime will have the hardest time jamming it and the administration has got a full court press to see how that happens

Last week, Brendan Carr, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, traveled to Miami for a news conference at the offices of Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL). Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Marcell Felipe, founder of the Inspire America Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting democracy in Cuba spoke to reporters. 

DeSantis pressed the White House to support efforts to preserve internet service to antigovernment protesters in Cuba, even advocating the use of giant balloons as floating above the island serving as Wi-Fi hotspots.

Brendan Carr, center, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, speaks during a news conference at the offices of Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, and Marcell Felipe, right, founder of the Inspire America Foundation.

Later, a White House Fact Sheet on Cuba announced that the administration is working with the private sector to find creative ways to provide internet access to the Cuban people. 

Acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Julie Chung, echoed the White House call on "Cuban leaders to restore and maintain access to Internet and telecommunications services. We are working with the private sector and Congress to identify ways for the Cuban people to have greater access to Internet service."


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