At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, Rep. Carlos Gimenez, Gov. Ron DeSantis and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr asked President Joe Biden to provide internet access to Cubans.
After Sunday’s mass protests on the island nation, the regime restricted and limited internet access.
“One of the first things they did was shut down the internet. Why? Because it inhibits the ability of the Cuban people to communicate,” Gimenez said.
One option, according to Salazar, is to have a collaboration between tech companies and the federal government to use balloons that bring internet access to the country.
“There are emerging technologies like the deployment of high altitude stratospheric balloons to create aerial wireless networks that the Cubans can link to,” Salazar said.
Local Cuban American Gemeny Hernandez agrees that connectivity with people on the island is crucial.
With over 20,000 followers on Instagram, she started an initiative that’s quickly gaining traction. Hernandez is adding funds directly into the cellphone accounts of Cubans.
“The best thing I could relate it to is back in the day when you used to pay for minutes. So what we’re doing is not only adding minutes, we’re also giving them what is called un saldo, it is 500 cuban pesos, that comes with 50 bonus minutes, and two gigs of data,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez is taking requests via email for people who need the phone credits in Cuba and she is also managing the donations.
“We have had a lapse of communication with the people in Cuba and the information we are getting is being manipulated, there is misinformation. It’s important for us to bridge the gap between us and them so we can get information from the ground,” said Hernandez.
If you have a family member in Cuba who needs the minutes and data or if you’d like to donate you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.