Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., is making a personal appeal to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to bring satellite internet technology to Cuba, much like he did in Ukraine.
Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur, sent the Starlink satellite technology to Ukraine in response to a public request from Ukraine Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who is concerned about internet disruptions during the Russian invasion.
The service is now up and running and is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, according to Musk.
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“I thank Mr. Elon Musk, and I would love for him to do the same thing for Cuba,” Salazar told Fox News Digital in an interview. “We were trying to reach out to him and his technology because it’s basically sending the message to those people: You are not alone.”
“We know that the Russians are going to shut down (the) internet because they want to destroy in silence, or the darkness,” Salazar continued. “Starlink and Mr. Musk, they are heroes, because what they’re doing is they’re showing the world through images, the barbarities that are being conducted by the Russians.”
The issue of connectivity is a high priority for Salazar, the freshman lawmaker from South Florida who is the daughter of Cuban exiles. She introduced legislation in August, called Operation Starfall, to provide access to wireless communications abroad when rogue regimes shut down internet access.
The legislation calls to deploy stratospheric balloons, aerostats or satellite technology capable of rapidly delivering wireless internet anywhere on the planet, from the stratosphere, or higher.
Her legislative push came after anti-government protests broke out in Cuba in July. The communist government responded by restricting internet access in an attempt to stifle dissent and hide the violent crackdown on activists.
“If the Biden administration would have provided internet connectivity to the Cubans, you would have 5 million Cubans on the streets of Havana,” Salazar said. “It’s impossible for the Cuban regime to put in jail 5 million people. And that would have been the beginning of the end.”
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The press offices for Musk’s two companies, Telsa and Starlink, did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.
Starlink is a network of about 2,000 satellites in low earth orbit that provide high-speed broadband internet by connecting with user terminals on the ground. Ukraine experienced periodic internet outages last week as Russian forces invaded from the north, south and east, according to internet monitor NetBlocks.
The biggest difference between setting up Starlink stations in Cuba and Ukraine is that Ukraine’s government wants internet connectivity. Musk has warned that the Starlink system in Ukraine could be vulnerable to Russian cyberattacks.
Fox News’ David Aaro and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.