The United States has imposed sanctions on a Cuban Minister of Security and a special forces unit of the Interior Ministry for alleged violations ofhuman rights as part of the crackdown on anti-government protests this month.
This decision marked the first concrete steps by the Joe Biden administration to put pressure on The communist government of Cuba in the face of calls from US lawmakers and the Cuban-American community to show greater support for the biggest protests to hit the island in decades.
The speed with which the administration has crafted new sanctions, other signals that Biden is very unlikely to 'Relax the US approach to Cuba shortly after his predecessor, Donald Trump, called off a historic Obama-era detente with Havana.
" This is just the beginning, "Bide said in astatement, expressing its condemnation for "mass detentions and mock trials".
"The United States will continue to sanction those responsible for the oppression of the people Cuban, "he said.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in a Twitter post dismissed the sanctions as" unfounded and slanderous ”and urged the United States to apply measures to its own record of“ systematic crackdown and police brutality. ”
The Treasury Department said that the sanctions had been imposed on a whole security unit of the Ministry of the Interior and on General Alvaro Lopez Miera, Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, describing him as the head of an entity "whose members have engaged in many crimes. serious human rights violations ”.
Thousands of Cubans staged protests a year agomaine to demonstrate against an economic crisis that has resulted in commodity shortages and power outages. 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 promised during the 2020 campaign to overthrow some of Trump's Cuban policies, but Thursday's announcement suggests little appetite for a return to rapprochement.
At the same time, the administration says it is still looking for ways to alleviate the plight humanitarian aid to 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 find out how Cuban Americans can send money to families on the island while keeping funds out of the malls.ains of the Cuban government.
Trump had imposed strict restrictions on remittances, which previously amounted to billions of dollars a year.
The White House, in a statement, warned that the issue of remittances is complex and "requires a measured and thoughtful approach in coordination with experts ".
Biden reiterated Thursday that his administration is looking for ways to help ordinary Cubans regain internet access after Havana restricted access to social media and messaging platforms, including Facebook and WhatsApp.
"We will work closely with our partners across the region, including the Organi zation of the American States, to put pressure on the regime ”, declaredre Biden.
The Cuban government has blamed the protests primarily on what it calls US-funded "counter-revolutionaries." by exploiting the economic hardship caused by the US sanctions.
The sanctions were imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, used to punish violators of human rights. 'man w with the freeze on US assets and the ban on travel to the US.
But US officials have acknowledged that Cuban officials rarely have financial relations with the United States and rarely travel to the United States, the practical impact of such measures.
The unrest seems to have injected a new sense of urgency in Biden's broad review of Cuban politics, which began shortly after he took office in January. Until now, Cuba had not been treatedas a priority item on the agenda as the administration grapples with the economic recovery and the coronavirus pandemic at home and challenges such as China, Russia and Iran at home. 'abroad.