Miami Herald (Sunday)

Don’t fall for Republican­s’ partisan bluster, Miami: Biden takes wise action on Cuba

- BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO fsantiago@miamiheral­d.com

isn’t mincing words.

“I unequivoca­lly condemn the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing to prison those who dared to speak in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people into silence,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “The Cuban people have the same right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as all people.”

And, as important as calling attention to the brutal treatment of protesters by the Miguel DíazCanel regime, Biden followed the words with action.

Here’s what’s significan­t: Finally, we hear an energetic president, White House, and administra­tion officials stepping up to the plate, delivering targeted, more comprehens­ive measures, and vowing that “the ongoing situation in Cuba is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administra­tion.”

Biden didn’t come to Florida to tout his agenda, as local and state Democrats wanted, a show of the same vote-canvassing art Republican­s have perfected along with policy delivery. But he neverthele­ss held Cuban leaders accountabl­e, denounced communism and called Cuba “a failed state.”

BIDEN TAKES ACTION

He issued targeted sanctions against Cuban Defense Minister Álvaro López Miera and, like Trump did in January, also the Ministry of the Interior’s “Brigada Especial” — the special ops team seen on video cracking down with brutal force on protesters — under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountabi­lity Act.

The White House also outlined more significan­t action to come, including: restaffing the U.S. Embassy in Havana; partnering with the private sector to crack through government censorship and provide free internet to blacked-out Cuba; reviewing remittance procedures to ensure the Cuban people receive the humanitari­an assistance, not the repressive government’s coffers.

“The United States stands with the Cuban people,” vowed a White House statement.

Last week, notable Democrats also joined Miami Republican­s in a strong bicameral, bipartisan resolution condemning the regime’s violent response to the protests, including Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Tim Kaine of Virginia, who — before the July 11 protests — were supporters of lifting the embargo.

“We are seeing decades of deep Cuban frustratio­n over inept, corrupt and cruel governance boiling over. While I have long argued for a change in the failed U.S. policy toward Cuba, the Cuban people know the real source of their island’s lost potential rests squarely with the ruling dictatorsh­ip,” Durbin said.

And he added: “On this 9th anniversar­y of Cuban democracy activist Oswaldo Payá’s suspicious death, I stand with the Cuban people in their peaceful demand for a brighter future.”

Still, every Republican who has made a television appearance in Miami keeps parroting what seems to be the party line: “It’s not enough.”

The Biden administra­tion also has been meeting with Cuban Americans with Cuba policy experience, including Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, who described others in the meetings as “people on and off the island who help promote democracy, human rights and civil society in Cuba.”

“The message today could not be clearer ... there will be consequenc­es for those with blood on their hands,” the senator said. “President Biden’s concrete actions demonstrat­e that his administra­tion — and all us who believe in a democratic Cuba — are of one voice, not divided by personal politics, but united by a deep belief that the people of Cuba should be free to choose how they live and who governs them.”

If only the latter were true in Miami.

Miami was “one voice” on July 11 as tens of thousands of Cubans from one end of the island to the other bravely took to the streets. nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers); and the relatively lightweigh­t core with a radius of 1,137 miles (1,830 kilometers).

By comparison, Earth’s crust ranges from a few miles (kilometers) beneath the oceans to more than 45 miles (70 kilometers) beneath the Himalayas.

But the political fissures surfaced when the hate group Proud Boys made its presence felt on Calle Ocho, mammoth “TRUMP WON” flags were unfurled where there had been a sea of Cuban ones, and a ridiculous Sean Hannity show spectacle was staged at Versailles.

Instead of the attention going to Cuba, the circus became a Trump rally and a slam-Biden festival.

It was an invitation for the Cuba cause to lose supporters, thanks to politician­s like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who continue to build political capital on the suffering — and now too, the blood — of the Cuban people.

Cuba shouldn’t be anybody’s political football, but in Florida, playing the who’s-tougher-onCuba game is a full-blown sport.

Fortunatel­y for the cause of a free Cuba, Biden is playing on the right team: that of the Cuban people.

Fabiola Santiago: 305-376-3469, @fabiolasan­tiago

Earth is almost double the size of Mars.

Its mission extended by another two years, InSight has been hit with a power crunch in recent months. Dust covered its solar panels, just as Mars was approachin­g the farthest point in its orbit around the sun.

Flight controller­s have boosted power by using the lander’s robot arm to release sand into the blowing wind to knock off some of the dust on the panels. The seismomete­r has continued working, but all other science instrument­s remain on hiatus because of the power situation.

 ?? Files ?? Cuban Defense Minister Álvaro López Miera.
Files Cuban Defense Minister Álvaro López Miera.
 ?? NASA/JPL-CALTECH AP ?? Clouds drift over the dome-covered SEIS seismomete­r of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars. The quake-measuring device is providing the first detailed look at the red planet's interior.
NASA/JPL-CALTECH AP Clouds drift over the dome-covered SEIS seismomete­r of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars. The quake-measuring device is providing the first detailed look at the red planet's interior.

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