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The Democratic National Committee is serving Cuban Americans with ads on Facebook and Instagram with President Joe Biden's message condemning the Cuban government’s “failed” communist system.
The advertising blitz is part of a larger Democratic bid to reverse the perception that Biden is soft on Havana and shore up a critical voting bloc that will determine whether Florida remains competitive in future elections.
Announcing the campaign, DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said the group “is committed to using our resources to speak directly to the Cuban community in South Florida to make sure they know that President Biden and Democrats have their back.”
He added, “President Biden has been incredibly clear: The Cuban people are crying out for freedom, and the United States will continue to stand with them and hold Cuban officials accountable for their abuse of basic human rights.”
On Monday, a Democratic non-profit advocacy group, Building Back Together, revealed a nearly six-figure digital and radio ad spent denouncing the Cuban regime in south and central Florida.
Backed by Biden advisers, the group has said it won’t limit donations or disclose the identities of its donors, operating as a so-called “dark money” group.
Biden’s political opponents have made note.
“The Cuba issue shows just how ineffective the Biden administration is at solving very real problems with solutions that put power in the hands of the people,” said Helen Aguirre Ferre, executive director of the Florida Republican Party.
Biden last week announced sanctions on Cuba's defense minister and a special forces brigade for human rights abuses during recent protests, as well as tools to circumvent the regime’s online censorship.
Some have voiced support for these measures, but lawmakers and Florida Republicans say more could be done.
For weeks, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has called on Biden to prioritize free satellite internet access for the Cuban people. Government-controlled systems were shut down as protests swept the island earlier this month, limiting access to information and halting digital communications. His office pressed the issue during a meeting with Biden officials.
“As a follow-up to that meeting we had with the White House, we spoke to the companies that can do this,” Rubio told Fox News.
Ferre, speaking to the Washington Examiner on Monday, chided the White House’s apparent lack of resolve.
“The inability of the Biden administration to allow Florida companies or U.S. companies to be able to provide internet service to the people of Cuba is astounding,” she said. “What the Cuban people are asking for is liberty, is freedom, and they need our support.”
Ferre continued: “We know what's happening on the island. Number one, you can't negotiate with the regime. And number two, you have to empower the Cuban people with the resources to be able to let the outside world know what's happening on the inside of the island.”
In a letter on Monday, Republican lawmakers from both chambers urged Biden to take stronger action, starting by meeting with them to discuss how they might bring an end to the regime’s stronghold.
“We are concerned that this pivotal moment is being squandered by indecision, bureaucracy, and a failure to lead,” the letter reads.
For months, the White House has weighed its approach. A policy review document is forthcoming, though officials have declined to say when.
On the campaign trail, Biden vowed to roll back sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. But such a move is likely to stoke vocal opposition from Cuban Americans in Florida, a battleground state with 29 electoral votes.
Trump swept the state in 2016 before carrying it again in 2020. Despite losing the presidential race, he earned a higher percentage of the two-party vote in Florida last year than in 2016, one of five states in which this occurred.
Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based forum on Western Hemisphere affairs, said two things underpinned Trump's Latin America policy.
“That was, I think, the main reason he got elected in 2016," Shifter told the Washington Examiner this month.
The second was "his policy on Venezuela, which was all Florida politics."
Six months into Biden’s term, "the issues continue to be Florida politics, and migration," Shifter said.
Biden has deviated from Trump’s policies, but under the circumstances, Shifter said, "It is extremely difficult to imagine him rolling back the Trump administration sanctions."
While Democratic strategists in the state have voiced support for Biden’s measures, his opponents see an opening.
“This is an issue that can doom [Florida Democrats], not only next year, but in 2024,” one longtime Florida operative said. “How can it not when you consider that you have people on the island who are saying, ‘We want liberty and freedom.’ And the first thing that comes out of the Biden administration is that this is COVID-related? It goes much deeper than that.”
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Original Author: Katherine Doyle