MIAMI (CBS12) — Gov. DeSantis held a roundtable in Miami Tuesday afternoon to focus on the ongoing protests in Cuba.
DeSantis, along with Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez appeared at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora.
The governor criticized the Cuban government for shutting down internet on the island, preventing residents from getting the word out on what's happening.
He also discussed the nature of the protests.
"These people are rebelling against a Communist dictatorship," he said. "They're not necessarily designed to be peaceful, they're trying to end the regime. that is fundamentally different than what we saw last summer, where people were burning down buildings... looting, breaking windows, targeting law enforcement... they're much different situations."
"What's going on in Cuba in particular is that those are not simply run-of-the-mill protests that we'd see here, in the United States," he said. "They don't have freedoms respected there, whereas in the United States, you have a panoply of freedoms that are respected. They are seeking an end to the regime."
Marcell Felipe, founder of Inspire America Foundation, emphasized that the "Cuban people have spoken" and that the "veil of fear has been lifted."
"They [the Cuban military] can be the heroes of the new republic or they can be the repressors of the last fallen republic," he said.
Cuban police are out in force on the country's streets as the president is accusing Cuban Americans of using social media to spur a rare outpouring of weekend protests over high prices and food shortages.
The demonstrations in several cities and towns were some of the biggest displays of antigovernment sentiment seen in years in tightly controlled Cuba, which is facing a surge of COVID-19 cases as it struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades due to U.S. sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump's administration.
People have taken to the streets of South Florida and in West Palm Beach to push for a free Cuba. Protesters also shut down part of the Palmetto Expressway in Miami-Dade Tuesday afternoon.
Over the weekend, DeSantis wrote on Twitter that "Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana."