Press Releases

Miami, FL – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) will address the Cuba Internet Freedom Conference in Miami via video message.
 
The conference recently came under fire from the Castro regime, which said the forum was using “the internet as a weapon of subversion.”
 
Rubio’s video message can be watched here and a downloadable broadcast quality version is available here for TV stations.
 
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Remarks at Cuba Internet Freedom Conference (via video message)
Miami, Florida
Monday, September 12, 2016
http://bit.ly/2cLQK2z
 
Senator Marco Rubio: “Hello, I’m Marco Rubio and it’s my honor to serve the people of Florida in the United States Senate. Thank you for the invitation to speak at this historic conference. I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you in person. You are gathered today for a cause much larger than yourselves. You are speaking freely for those in Cuba who lack that right – who cannot express themselves for fear of persecution or harassment.
 
“As you all know, internet freedom is not some obscure technological subject; it is now central to human freedom. And that is exactly why it has so many enemies. The internet has proven to be such an effective catalyst for pro-democratic revolution that it is now a battleground in fights for freedom around the world. Cuba is one of the most extreme and disheartening examples. The Castros understand that information is power.
 
“This is why they block the people of Cuba from any online resources that could empower them to affect change in their country. This is why, when the United Nations declared internet access a basic human right, the Castros opposed the move.
 
“It’s why Raul Castro’s right hand man, José Ramón Machado Ventura, recently warned that outsiders such as all of you could use internet access to, quote, “penetrate us and do ideological work for a new conquest.” It’s also why the cowards in the Cuban regime even block text messages that contain words like “democracy,” “human rights,” and “hunger strike” – like the one being waged now by Guillermo Fariñas. It’s why one top regime official has attacked this very conference and called the internet “a weapon of subversion”.
 
“And it’s why today, only about 5 percent of Cubans can get online. That’s one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world. The regime can talk all it wants about plans to raise that number over the next few years. But it will make little difference as long as the information accessible is still censored and controlled.
 
“The recent move to set up Wi-Fi hotspots or internet cafes is not the sign of progress the regime claims. It’s a cosmetic change at best. It is only available to those can afford it. And to those who are of course still blocked from accessing any information deemed “sensitive” by the Castro government. 
 
“It is my belief that President Obama’s diplomatic opening to the Castro regime has only impeded efforts to promote greater access to uncensored information. President Obama claimed the people of Cuba did not have modern technology because of the U.S. embargo. But that is blatantly false.
 
“The Cuban people haven’t had access to telecommunications and the internet because the government prohibits and censors it – the very government President Obama has now empowered, enriched, and legitimized with his concessions.
 
“This notion that ending the embargo would somehow prompt the government to allow the people of Cuba access to any web site they wanted was never grounded in truth – and I believe, sadly, we’re seeing that now.
 
“The United States must stand on the side of those Cubans demanding their God-given freedoms. The United States must stand on your side in this fight to secure a free internet.
 
“And so I thank you all for your work. Whether organizing, blogging, or speaking out with your voice, your struggle to promote greater access to uncensored information makes you warriors for Cuban freedom.
 
“I’d also like to thank the hosts of the Cuba Internet Freedom Conference today for drawing attention to this vital cause. It is my hope that this conference will be held again next year, and again each year after that – until change is achieved and full internet freedom is won.
 
“Thank you.”