Florida lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to condemn the Cuban government after U.S. intelligence said Monday that Havana tried to influence the 2022 midterm elections.
A report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says Cuban officials worked to establish relationships with members of the U.S. media sympathetic to Havana, and that a network of social media accounts likely linked to Cuban intelligence have ” amplified derogatory content” about the United States. Florida politicians hostile to the Cuban government.
A White House official referred a reporter to the intelligence community for comment on the report as well as to the State Department and Treasury Department for comment on whether the United States was considering retaliation for election interference from Cuba.
But Florida politicians said the Biden administration should do more to respond to a threat they view as pernicious and persistent.
“No one should be surprised that the Cuban regime attempted to influence the 2022 midterm elections, although such ‘participation’ in our democratic process is particularly ironic given the regime’s contempt for any semblance of democracy in his country,” said Republican Senator Marco. Rubio of Florida told McClatchy in a statement. “The Biden administration must immediately condemn these actions, make clear that they will not be tolerated, and expel Cuban diplomats from American soil. The continued failure to treat Cuba like the tyrannical spy regime that it is only emboldens it. »
Rep. María Elvira Salazar, R-Miami, told McClatchy that “this blatant interference in America’s elections must not be allowed and must be addressed with an immediate response from the United States government.”
“The Cuban regime seeks to overthrow its enemies and place its allies and agents in positions of power in the United States,” Salazar said. “South Florida politicians who oppose the regime are attacked by communist propaganda spread by their spokespeople. »
Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the NSC, said the Biden administration is “committed to a whole-of-government approach to ensuring the security and integrity of our nation’s elections.”
“The United States does not tolerate malign foreign influence or interference of any kind,” Watson said in a statement.
Although the declassified portion of the intelligence assessment does not name any specific individuals who were targeted, it does say that Cuba “attempted to undermine the electoral prospects of certain congressional politicians and U.S. governors whom it viewed as hostile.”
Much of the report’s section on Cuba’s activities is redacted. The assessment also does not specify the effectiveness of Havana’s influence campaign on the Florida elections.
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez said at a news conference in Doral that he believed he, Salazar and Miami’s other Republican congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart, had been targeted, even though he stated that he had not been informed directly of this. All three are Cuban Americans.
“They redacted a whole bunch of documents, but you can infer from what you can see who exactly they were talking about,” he said.
When asked if they had information on who was targeted, Andrea Morales, Díaz-Balart’s press secretary, said they had not been briefed by the director of national intelligence, “but we have always knew they did this sort of thing.”
“If we knew, we cannot release classified information,” she said. “The regime is effective in its anti-American espionage and covert activities, and it is very dangerous. »
Miami Herald Staff Writer Syra Ortiz Blanes contributed to this report.
This story was originally published December 20, 2023, 5:30 a.m.