Biden announced new sanctions against Cuba for violating human rights

The government of President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Cuba. The recent sanctions against Cuba come after strong protests ...

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  • The government of President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Cuba.
  • The recent sanctions against Cuba come after strong protests on the island.
  • Biden assured that the new sanctions against Cuban officials are “only the beginning.”

The government of President Joe Biden announced on Thursday sanctions against an official and a Cuban government entity involved in human rights abuses committed during the crackdown on protests on the island this month, the news agency AP reported.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury included Álvaro López Miera, a Cuban military and political leader, and the National Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior, in the list of the most recent sanctions.

They impose sanctions against the government of Cuba

sanctions against Cuba
Demonstrators protest against the Cuban government during a march in front of the White House, Saturday, July 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / José Luis Magaña)

The Treasury said in a statement that López Miera “has played an integral role in suppressing ongoing protests in Cuba.” The Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, headed by López Miera, and other Cuban government security services have attacked protesters and detained or disappeared more than 100 of them in an attempt to suppress these protests, according to the aforementioned US department. by AP.

The government headed by President Miguel Díaz-Canel acted swiftly, and violently, to quell the protests. The Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, said that the actions taken by the Cuban authorities, and the violent crowds that it mobilized, “expose the fear of the regime to its own people and its lack of will to satisfy their basic needs. and aspirations ”.

Biden backs sanctions against Cuba for violating human rights

sanctions against Cuba
Photo: AP

The National Special Brigade had already been sanctioned in January by the government of former President Donald Trump, which also sanctioned the entire Interior Ministry and its head Lázaro Alberto Álvarez Casas under the Global Magnitski Law.

“I unequivocally condemn the mass arrests and the simulation of judicial processes in which those who dared to raise their voices are unjustly sentenced to prison terms, in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people” to silence them, Biden said in a statement. “The Cuban people have the same right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as all people,” he added.

Protests

sanctions against Cuba
Police detain an anti-government protester on Sunday, July 11, 2021, during a protest in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo / Ramón Espinosa)

Earlier in the week, the White House announced that Biden ordered his government to take various measures to increase pressure on the communist regime after thousands of Cubans took to the streets of Havana and other cities on the island a few weeks ago. to protest food shortages and high prices during the coronavirus crisis.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez responded on Twitter that the sanctions are “baseless and slanderous,” noting that Biden should apply sanctions to himself “for acts of daily repression and police brutality” in the United States.

They criticize US action.

sanctions against Cuba
People protest in front of the Capitol in Havana, Cuba, on Sunday, July 11, 2021. (AP Photo / Ramón Espinosa)

Shortly after, during a press conference, Rodríguez emphasized the impracticality of the sanctions against Cuba. “It is irrelevant from a practical point of view because I know that this minister (López Miera) does not have accounts in North American banks and has never told me that he is interested in going sightseeing in Miami,” said Foreign Minister Rodríguez.

“It is a relevant issue based on the political and aggressive involvement that it shows … The government of the United States does not have the least legal, moral or political authority to go around sanctioning people around the world,” Rodríguez added, according to AP.

They will continue to apply sanctions against Cuba

sanctions against Cuba
A pharmacist treats a client as fans blow amid the summer heat in Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, July 15, 2021. (AP Photo / Eliana Aponte)

OFAC was commissioned to explore sanctions against Cuban officials who violate the human rights of peaceful protesters in Cuba. “The Cuban people are protesting for the fundamental and universal rights they deserve from their government,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

In turn, he added: “The Treasury will continue to apply its sanctions related to Cuba, including those imposed today, to support the Cuban people in their search for democracy and relief from the Cuban regime.”

Biden asks that remittances from the US go directly to Cuban families

sanctions against Cuba

Biden also instructed the State Department to form a task force to review the remittance policy of the United States and ensure that the money that Cuban-Americans send home reaches their families directly without the regime keeping a part.

Similarly, the US president asked to review the feasibility of increasing the embassy staff in Havana. The White House is hopeful that an increase in staff will facilitate civil society participation after one of the largest anti-government demonstrations in Cuba in recent times. “We have made it clear over the past week that addressing this moment was a priority for the administration and for President Biden,” said Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary.

New sanctions against Cuba are “just the beginning”

New sanctions are

For its part, the Efe news agency reviewed verbatim that Biden demonstrated this Thursday that, at least for the moment, he has decided to opt for a heavy hand in his policy towards Cuba, by sanctioning high-ranking military officials on the island for their alleged role in suppressing protests this month.

“This is just the beginning. The United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for the oppression of the Cuban people, ”Biden said in the statement also cited by the news agency Efe.

Biden’s first ‘punishment’

Biden's first 'punishment'
Protesters wave Cuban flags during a demonstration, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo / Marta Lavandier)

According to the Efe report, the sanctions represent Biden’s first tangible response to the unprecedented anti-government protests on July 11 in Cuba, which have forced the White House to prioritize policy towards the island.

Although, during his electoral campaign, Biden promised to return to the thaw with Cuba and to reverse many of the sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump (2017-2021), his calculations appear to have changed since he came to power, he indicated textually Eph.

International pressure

International pressure
Demonstrators block the passage on the Palmetto expressway, in Miami, on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, to show their support for the Cubans who took to the streets of the island to protest the weekend. (Pedro Portal / Miami Herald via AP)

According to Efe, the White House also trusts in an increase in international pressure against Havana, and plans to ask Latin American governments and the Organization of American States (OAS) for help.

Specifically, it will ask them to “pressure the (Cuban) regime to immediately release unjustly detained political prisoners, restore internet access and allow the Cuban people to enjoy their fundamental rights,” explained Biden. The other short-term goal of the White House is to find a way to help restore internet access, restricted on the island after the protests, although little by little it is returning to normality.

Sanctioned

Sanctioned by the USA

Efe explained that this Thursday’s sanctions affect López-Miera, a general in the Army Corps who has held the position of Minister of the FAR since April and, at 77, is one of the leaders of the Cuban Revolution considered “historical ”And a trusted man of former Cuban President Raúl Castro.

“López-Miera and the national special brigade have been involved in suppressing the protests, including through the use of physical violence and intimidation,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement. The special national brigade of the Ministry of the Interior, popularly known as “black wasps”, is an elite unit of the Cuban army that, according to Washington, also participated in the repression of protesters on July 11. The sanctions block any assets that López-Miera or members of that elite unit may have under US jurisdiction, and prohibit those in the United States from negotiating with them. Report with textual information from AP and Efe.

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