The United States has imposed economic sanctions on the Cuban military leader in response to Havana’s crackdown on protesters, in an effort by Joe Biden to increase pressure on the communist regime.
The sanctions announced by the Treasury Department on Thursday were aimed at Alvaro Lopez Miera, Cuba’s defense minister, for “grave human rights abuses” in connection with the protests, as well as the “Black Berets,” a unit of the department of the interior which was disposed to curb the disorders.
Thousands of people took to the streets on July 11 in Cuba’s largest anti-government demonstrations in decades, in what appeared to be spontaneous demonstrations in several cities and towns to protest the lack of food and medicine and demand a greater freedom.
The government responded by sending large numbers of police to disperse the protesters and limiting Internet access in most of the island. Human Rights Watch later said about 400 people had been arrested.
“It unequivocally condemns the mass detentions and false trials that are unjustly condemned to imprison those who have dared to speak out in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people in silence,” Biden said in a statement Thursday.
“The Cuban people have the same right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as all peoples. The United States is with the brave Cubans who have taken to the streets to oppose 62 years of repression under a communist regime. “, added the President of the United States.
Miguel Díaz-Canel, president of Cuba, has repeatedly blamed exiles in the United States for encouraging and organizing protests. Like Cuban leaders before him, he pointed the finger at the U.S. embargo for causing economic shortages and difficulties, even though independent economists say the economy is dominated by the country’s state and central planning. inefficient plays a big role.
The Díaz-Canel administration hoped that Biden would revive Obama’s era-wide expansion policy with Havana. Despite promises by the US president in the process of surviving to alleviate some of the humanitarian consequences of the embargo, these hopes have so far been thwarted.
Cuba’s crackdown on protesters further limits Biden’s political space to make any move toward dialogue with Havana.
Biden said the United States “will continue to sanction individuals responsible for the oppression of the Cuban people” while working with “civil society organizations and the private sector to provide Internet access to the Cuban people.” which eludes the regime’s censorship efforts ”.
He said the United States was also “reviewing our remittance policy to determine how we can maximize support for the Cuban people” and pledged to “restructure our embassy in Havana” to “provide consular services to Cubans.” and improve our ability to engage with civil society. ”