US announces sanctions on Cuba as Biden meets with Cuban-American leaders

US announces sanctions on Cuba as Biden meets with Cuban-American leaders

The Biden administration has imposed new sanctions against two senior Cuban officials and the Cuban Revolutionary National Police for their role in cracking down on anti-government protesters in Cuba.

The announcement came just before President Joe Biden welcomed Cuban American leaders, including Senator Bob Menendez, DN.J., Representative Gregory Meeks, DN.Y., and Manny Diaz, Chairman of the Democratic Party. from Florida, to the White House. Friday afternoon to discuss sanctions and other aspects of the US response to the regime’s violent crackdown on peaceful protests.

The actions of the Treasury against two officials of the Cuban police force, Oscar Callejas Valcarcel and Eddy Sierra Arias, were in response to “actions to suppress the peaceful and pro-democratic protests in Cuba which began on July 11,” according to the statement. from the US Treasury Department.

“The Treasury Department will continue to refer to and call by name those who facilitate the Cuban regime’s involvement in serious human rights violations,” Foreign Assets Control Bureau director Andrea M. Gacki said on Friday in A press release. “Today’s action serves to hold more accountable those responsible for cracking down on the Cuban people’s calls for freedom and respect for human rights.

Biden said the government crackdown amounted to a “blatant violation of the rights of the Cuban people” and accused the regime of placing protesters in mass detention and of organizing mock trials.

As part of the US response, Biden said his administration was expanding assistance to political prisoners and exploring ways to bring the internet to the island, as well as ways to increase the flow of remittances to the people. Cuban without the army being able to take a part. . He also said that there would be more sanctions in the next few days “unless there is a radical change” in the behavior of the Cuban regime, but added that he had not expected that. occur.

Cuban Americans have denounced arrests of protesters on the Communist-ruled island following the historic July 11 protests, a rare event on the Communist-ruled island since the 1959 revolution.

People march in support of the ongoing anti-government protests in Cuba near the White House on July 26, 2021.Brendan Smialowski / AFP – Getty Images

The protests in Cuba were sparked by the island’s severe economic crisis, including shortages of food and medicine, as well as progressive blackouts, but also included calls for ‘libertad’ or ‘freedom. “. Many chanted “we want change” and “down with dictatorship”.

More than 700 people are held by the government, according to human rights organizations. There are reports that some people are held incommunicado and others face summary trials, which Cuba has denied. The protests ended with members of the security forces and civilians beating protesters with sticks and arrested.

For weeks, Cuban Americans staged protests and rallies in support of the islanders and called on Biden to take more action against Havana. Cuban Americans are an important electoral bloc, and former President Donald Trump won the majority of their support in Florida.

The Cuban government largely blamed the United States and the decades-long economic embargo for the protests and said the protesters were also incited on social media.

In the United States, Cuban Americans have staged protests and rallies in support of the islanders and called on Biden to take more action against Havana.

The Treasury Department last week announced sanctions against the Cuban defense minister and an elite brigade of government security forces that took part in the crackdown on protesters.

The White House has held several meetings with Cuban American leaders and members of Congress since the protests swept across the island.

Yotuel Romero, one of the performers of the song “Patria y Vida” or “Homeland and Life,” a phrase that was shouted repeatedly during the protests, was at the White House meeting. “Patria y Vida” has become a kind of hymn in the demonstrations and is a play on the revolutionary slogan “The homeland or death”.

EMerge Americas CEO and Roots of Hope Founder L. Felice Gorordo, as well as Miami Freedom Project Co-Founder Ana Sofía Peláez were also in attendance.

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