WASHINGTON, July 22 (Hfrance.fr) - The United States have imposed on Thursday sanctions on asenior Cuban security official and an Interior Ministry special forces unit for alleged human rights violations in a crackdown on anti-government protests earlier this month.
This decision marked the first concrete steps by the administration of President Joe Biden to put pressure on Cuba. The Communist government is facing calls from US lawmakers and the Cuban-American community to show greater support for the biggest protests that have struck the island in decades.
The speed with which the administration has crafted new sanctions makes it highly unlikely that Biden will soften the US approach to Cuba soon after his predecessor, Donald Trump , canceled a historic Obama-era detente with Havana.
The US Treasury said in a statement that sanctions had been imposed on the Home Office's security unit and on General Alvaro Lopez Miera, Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
Thousands of Cubans staged protests a week ago to protest an economic crisis that has resulted in commodity shortages and blackouts. They were also protesting against the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on civil liberties. Hundreds of activists have been arrested.
Biden had promised during the 2020 campaign to overturn some of Trump's Cuban policies, but the Thursday's announcement does not bode well for an appetite for a return to rapprochement.
At the same time, the administration is still looking for ways to alleviate the human situationarea of the Cuban people.
The White House said Tuesday that Biden would form a task force to examine remittances to Cuba following the protests. The goal is to determine how Cuban Americans can send money to families on the island while keeping the funds out of the hands of the Cuban government.
Trump had imposed strict restrictions on remittances, which are said to have already amounted to several billion dollars a year.
Biden also said his administration was looking for ways to help ordinary Cubans regain internet access after Havana was restricted from accessing social media and messaging platforms including Facebook (FB.O) and WhatsApp.
The governmentCuban ent has blamed the protests primarily on what he calls US-funded "counterrevolutionaries " who exploit the economy suffering from US sanctions.
The sanctions were imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, used to punish human rights violators with US asset freezes and US travel bans United States, a person familiar with the matter told Hfrance.fr.
But American officials have acknowledged that Cuban officials rarely have financial transactions with states United and rarely travel to the United States, which limits the practical impact of such measures.
"Tackling at that time was a priority for the administration and for President Biden, "White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a daily briefing. "Sanctions authority was one of those considerations.
NEW SENSE OF EMERGENCY
The unrest appears to have injected a new sense of urgency into Biden's broad review of Cuban politics, which began shortly after he took office in January. Until now, Cuba had not been treated as a priority item on the agenda as the administration dealt with the economic recovery and the coronavirus pandemic at home and the challenges such as China, Russia and Iran abroad.
Cuba, an official from the department of Cuba told Hfrance.fr State, is now a "top priority ".
Analysts say conciliatory action is unlikely in the short term. To complicate matters, Biden's poorer-than-expected performance with voters in the Antico community.Cuban-American mmunist from South Florida, who supported Trump's harsh policies towards Havana and Caracas and helped him win the state of the battlefield. -testid = "paragraph-18 "> Many analysts say Biden may need to be cautious in Cuban politics ahead of the 2022 congressional elections. Matt Spetalnick report; Editing by Dan Grebler, Cynthia Osterman and Sonya Hepinstall
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