US announces sanctions on Cuban official
Washington – The United States government on Thursday announced new sanctions on a senior Cuban security official and an interior ministry brigade and warned of more to come, as it accused Havana of repressing and violating the rights of peaceful anti-government protestors.
The move comes a week and a half after tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets, in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades, to protest a range of issues, including the increasing cost of living, shortages of basic goods and medicines, and the communist government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sanctions have been imposed on the 78-year-old head of the Cuban military and the division of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior driving the crackdown on protestors.
“Today, the United States is imposing sanctions on Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba Álvaro López Miera and the Cuban Ministry of the Interior’s Special National Brigade or “Boinas Negras” (Black Berets). López Miera and the Special National Brigade have been involved in suppressing the protests, including through physical violence and intimidation,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Thursday.
“We stand with every Cuban seeking a government that respects the human rights and dignity of the Cuban people. We will continue to take action to promote accountability for the Cuban government’s human rights abuses,” he added.
In a separate statement, US President Joe Biden warned of more sanctions to come.
“This is just the beginning – the United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people,” he said as he condemned “the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing to prison those who dared to speak out in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people into silence”.
Biden added that advancing human dignity and freedom is a top priority for his administration which will work closely with its partners throughout the region, including the Organization of American States, to pressure the regime to immediately release wrongfully detained political prisoners, restore Internet access, and allow the Cuban people to enjoy their fundamental rights.
“The Cuban people have the same right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as all people. The United States stands with the brave Cubans who have taken to the streets to oppose 62 years of repression under a communist regime,” President Biden added. (CMC)