The United States imposed sanctions on Cuban police on Friday, and Joe Biden, under pressure on this politically hot topic, promised further action unless there was a “radical” change in Cuba.
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Asked about additional sanctions, the US president replied, on the sidelines of a meeting at the White House with Cuban-American representatives: “There will be others, unless there is a radical change in Cuba, which I do not expect.”
The Cuban Treasury announced that the United States on Friday imposed sanctions on two senior Cuban police officials, as well as the entire Revolutionary National Police, for their participation in the suppression of recent protests against the Cuban government.
PNR Director Oscar Callejas Valcars and Deputy Director Eddy Sierra Arias, accused of “serious human rights violations”, have been added to the US blacklist.
Their potential assets in the US will be frozen and access to the US financial system will henceforth be blocked.
“The Treasury will continue to sanction and by name identify those who facilitate gross human rights violations by the Cuban regime,” noted Andrea Jacqui, Director of the Treasury’s main sanctions unit.
“Today’s actions are aimed at holding accountable those responsible for the suppression of the Cuban people’s demands for freedom and respect for human rights,” she added.
Cuba, with the voice of its Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in the process “strongly” refused to include the National Registry and its officials on lists deemed “false”.
“These arbitrary actions add to misinformation and aggression to justify an inhumane blockade against Cuba,” the minister wrote on Twitter, referring to Washington’s embargo on the island since 1962.
On July 11 and 12, thousands of Cubans demonstrated, shouting “We are hungry” or “Down with the dictatorship.”
At the conclusion of these demonstrations, the most important since the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959, about 100 people were arrested, according to various opposition organizations.
Washington immediately condemned this crackdown and supported the protesters, promising to help the Cubans.
But Joe Biden has found himself under increasing pressure from Congress and the large Cuban-American community to take more realistic action.
So on July 22, the Treasury announced a first series of financial sanctions against Cuban Defense Minister Alvaro Lopez Meira and the “Black Berets,” a special unit of the Interior Ministry deployed during the demonstrations.
But the impact of these sanctions, which comes on top of those more general ones, which have already targeted the Caribbean island for decades, is very limited, especially since the Department of the Interior as a whole was already on the US blacklist.
“We hear your voices. We hear the calls for freedom,” the US president said on Friday, once again denouncing the “failed (Cuban) communist regime.”
He noted that other support measures are under consideration. The United States, in particular, is studying ways to ensure free Internet access on the island.
Washington also wants to ensure that remittances sent by Cubans abroad, which the Americans say were partly diverted by the Cuban military, reach their destination.
But the Democratic president, who so willingly rallies, has little chance of rallying the Republicans behind him.
The latter, who for a long time was closely associated with harsh criticism of the communist regime, never ceased to remind Joe Biden that Barack Obama, who was his running mate, had tried to pursue a policy of openness with Havana.
The Democrats are weak towards Cuba, who spread the lies of the communist regime’s anti-American propaganda. On Friday, the Republican National Committee commented in a statement: Biden’s lack of assertiveness is a shame.
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