TALLAHASSEE --- Cuban citizens have grabbed the world’s attention as their uprising against communist leadership on the island nation continues boiling over, and, unsurprisingly, the anti-government protests dominated this week in Florida politics.

Cuban exiles flocked to South Florida starting in the late 1950’s following Fidel Castro’s rise to power on the island nation, just 90 miles south of the Florida Keys.

Some six decades later, people of Cuban ancestry and their exiled counterparts represent a powerful voting bloc in the Sunshine State. More than 60 percent of the nation’s two million Cuban-Americans live in Florida, according to the Cuban Studies Institute.

A who’s who of Florida pols are showing rare bipartisanship in applauding Cubans who are demanding freedom.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has been clear about where he stands on the issue. The governor has repeatedly voiced support for Cuban protesters since demonstrations erupted over the weekend. The governor also has supported protesters in Florida who are showing solidarity with their Cuban counterparts.

DeSantis, however, isn’t calling for U.S. intervention in the matter. Instead, the governor on Thursday sent a message to members of Cuba’s military by telling them to “live in the history books” by overthrowing their nation’s communist leadership.

“The best role for the military is the Cuban military to realize that time is up. You can’t keep doing the bidding of a repressive dictatorship that is not governing with the consent of the governed,” DeSantis told reporters during a press conference in Miami.

Cubans, who took to the streets last weekend, are being met with violent force and government-caused internet blackouts.

DeSantis sent a letter to President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday requesting that the U.S. government restore internet access to the island.

“Technology exists to provide internet access into Cuba remotely, using the innovation of American enterprise and the diverse industries here,” DeSantis wrote.

Suggestions about how to accomplish that goal include floating balloons that would enable Wi-Fi access and, as DeSantis suggested Thursday, using the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Biden said that aid from the U.S. could depend on actions taken by Cuban leaders.

“Cuba is unfortunately a failed state and repressing their citizens. There are a number of things that we would consider doing to help the people of Cuba, but it would require a different circumstance or a guarantee that they would not be taken advantage of by the government," Biden said Thursday.

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO ADVERTISE

Siding with a roofing company that contended a new Florida property-insurance law violates First Amendment rights, a federal judge has blocked the state from enforcing a key part of the law.

The statute, approved by state lawmakers during the legislative session that ended in April, was aimed at combating insurance fraud. The measure, which prohibits roofing contractors from certain types of advertising to potential customers, comes amid spiraling property-insurance rates and insurers dropping policies in Florida.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker supported the call for a preliminary injunction from Brandon-based Gale Force Roofing & Restoration LLC, which argued the law signed by DeSantis on June 11 directly penalizes protected speech.

“It is also clear that the threatened injuries to plaintiff from banning plaintiff’s truthful commercial speech outweighs the state’s interest in preventing fraud, protecting consumers from exploitation, and stabilizing the insurance market,” Walker wrote in a ruling issued Sunday.

In court documents, the state disputed that the law’s restrictions violate First Amendment rights, arguing that the statute should be considered a reasonable restriction on commercial speech combating consumer exploitation and fraud.

Under the law, “targeted digital advertisements or e-mails, door hangers, or brochures handed out in person are prohibited if, and only if, they encourage a homeowner to make a roofing-insurance claim,” the state’s lawyers wrote. Radio and television advertisements are allowed under the law.

Gale Force Roofing and Restoration argued in the lawsuit that it advertises to homeowners to contact the company for inspections of storm damage to roofs. The law will have a chilling effect on the company's speech, its lawyers said.

Walker called the state’s evidence that the new law advances Florida’s interests “lackluster,” and in his 44-page order questioned whether lawmakers couldn’t instead “directly regulate agreements between homeowners and contractors or impose liability” for incomplete work.

SCHOOL STANDARDS GET UPDATE

The State Board of Education adopted new curriculum standards for civics, government and Holocaust education, along with updates to other subject areas, during an at-times heated meeting of the State Board of Education Wednesday.

The revised civic education standards will, in part, require public school students to “study primary source documents to understand the philosophical underpinnings of the American Republic and the root cause of American exceptionalism.”

DeSantis appeared at the board’s Wednesday meeting to tout the updated standards.

“So this civics education is universally applicable, regardless of what field you go into, regardless of what you do in your life once you leave Florida’s education system,” DeSantis told the board.

DeSantis was met with mostly applause from those who attended the meeting. But some in the sizable crowd that gathered at the St. Petersburg College Seminole campus in Pinellas County weren't sold on the revised standards.

Marina Welch, who said she represented the organization Women’s March Florida, contended that the standards are part of recent actions by the state to remove critical race theory from the classroom.

“The exclusion of civics courses including CRT (critical race theory) will, by definition, limit information. Our state’s most precious asset, our children, should be educated to arrive at and make informed decisions,” Welch argued

STORY OF THE WEEK: Gov. Ron DeSantis told young members of Cuba’s military to “live in the history books” by overthrowing their nation’s communist leadership, as he pushed President Joe Biden to bring Wi-Fi access back to people protesting on the island nation.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Clearly, this is a dictatorship that has lost --- not that they ever had it --- but clearly, they don't have the consent of the governed now. And so, I think that the best thing would be for those military, particularly some of the younger military folks, to understand, you can really be heroic in this, you can play an instrumental role in founding a free Cuba, re-founding the country and a free republic.” --- Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter with experience in print and radio, having covered state and local news in Tallahassee since 2014. A graduate of Florida State University, Dailey has been a resident of the capital city since 2012. He joined the News Service of Florida in 2021, reporting with a focus on education and education policy.