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Carl: Standing with the Cuban people in their fight for freedom

For the past few weeks, the world has watched as thousands of Cuban citizens have taken to the streets to protest a Communist system that has oppressed its citizens for more than 60 years. These sudden demonstrations are not the result of new frustrations, but rather a critical turning point for a people that have had their basic rights and freedoms limited by the Cuban government for the past six decades. Now, more than ever, it is critical for Americans to stand with the Cuban people as they fight diligently for freedom.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Cuba with a handful of elected officials. Many folks do not realize Mobile, Alabama, and Havana, Cuba, are sister cities, and we actually ship large amounts of chickens to Cuba through the Port of Mobile. My trip to Cuba taught me so much about the Cuban government and the Cuban people. It’s a beautiful country with wonderful people, but the oppressive regime has limited freedom, squashed innovation, and prohibited progress for more than 60 years.

While AOC and her squad are saying Cubans are simply protesting vaccine shortages, the Cuban people are protesting a lack of fundamental freedom. It’s critically important that we recognize these efforts as a fight for freedom, rather than frustrations over vaccine shortages. This is why I was proud to join more than 100 of my GOP colleagues last week on a resolution supporting the Cuban people in their efforts against the oppressive government rule.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has also created a 16-member Cuba advisory group which is exploring bipartisan options to work with President Biden to increase pressure on the Cuban government while ensuring the safety of Cuban citizens as they protest the brutal oppression from Cuban officials. This bicameral group will also work to keep America, and the rest of the world, informed about the ongoing atrocities being committed by the Communist regime in Havana.

President Biden needs to take firm action by keeping the embargo (which does not include food or medicine) in place and bringing internet access to Cuba information can freely flow in and out. As the protests in Cuba continue, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the Biden administration, to remain tough on the Cuban government and support the Cuban people in their fight for freedom against government oppression.

Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.