US Treasury imposes new sanctions on Cuba as Biden meets Cuban Americans – National – .

US Treasury imposes new sanctions on Cuba as Biden meets Cuban Americans – National – .

The Biden administration on Friday announced new sanctions against Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police and its two top officials as the United States seeks to increase pressure on the Communist government following this month’s protests on the Isle.

Police Nacional Revolcionaria and agency director and deputy director Oscar Callejas Valcarce and Eddie Sierra Arias have been targeted by the latest sanctions announced by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The police are part of Cuba’s Interior Ministry, which was already the subject of a general designation by the Trump administration in January.

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“We hear the cries of freedom coming from the island. The United States is taking concerted action to support the cause of the Cuban people, ”President Joe Biden said at the start of a White House meeting with Cuban-Americans shortly after the Treasury announced the sanctions.

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The administration said it was considering a wide range of additional options in response to the protests, including providing Internet access to Cubans, and established a task force to review the United States transfer policy to to ensure that more of the money Cuban Americans send home returns. directly into the hands of their families without the government taking a share. Biden added that more sanctions were in sight.

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The White House meeting comes nearly three weeks after the unusual July 11 protests in which thousands of Cubans took to the streets of Havana and other cities to protest shortages, power outages and government policies. These were the first such events since the 1990s.

The Cuban regime deployed the PNR to attack protesters, the Treasury Department said in a statement. Police have been pictured confronting and arresting protesters in Havana, including members of the July 11 Mothers Movement, a group founded to organize the families of detainees and missing, according to the Treasury.

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In Camaguey, a Catholic priest was beaten and arrested by the PNR while defending young demonstrators, according to the Treasury. PNR agents also beat a group of peaceful protesters, including several minors, and there have also been documented cases in which the PNR has used clubs to disperse peaceful protests across Cuba, the Treasury said.

“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,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. “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.

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Among the Cuban-American activists meeting with Biden was Yotuel Romero, one of the authors of the song “Patria y vida!” which has become something of an anthem for the protests, an official said.

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Others in attendance included L. Felice Gorordo, CEO of eMerge Americas; Ana Sofia Pelaez, founder of the Miami Freedom Project, and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

White House officials said Biden would discuss the new sanctions as well as ways to potentially establish internet access for the Cuban people.

Internet access is a sensitive issue in Cuba. In the days leading up to the recent protests, calls were made on social media for anti-government protests. The Cuban government said anti-Castro groups in the United States had used social media, especially Twitter, to campaign against him and criticized Twitter for doing nothing to stop him.

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Internet service was cut off at one point during the July 11 protest, although Cuban authorities did not explicitly acknowledge that they had done so.

Some US leaders, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have said the White House should do something to maintain internet service in Cuba, including using balloons as Wi-Fi hotspots for the population.

The Biden administration is also examining proposals by American supporters of trade with Cuba that would allow Cuban Americans to send money to loved ones on the island.

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Biden and others have rejected outright restoration of remittances because of a percentage of transaction fees paid to the government. But according to a proposal under consideration, transfer agents would waive those fees until the end of the year, supporters say.

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The proposal would have to be approved by the Cuban government, however, and it is not at all clear that it would agree.

Last week, the US government announced sanctions against the Minister of the Cuban Armed Forces, Alvaro Lopez Miera, and the Interior Ministry’s Special Brigade – known as the “black berets” – for participating in the arrest of demonstrators.

International organizations have severely criticized the Cuban government, which said that while people affected by the country’s crisis were participating in the protests, there were also “criminals” who took advantage of the situation to create unrest. Sometimes the demonstrations turned into vandalism with looting, theft and clashes with the police.

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Government supporters also took to the streets to defend the authorities and the revolution.

So far, it is unclear how many people have been detained, although judicial authorities have said there have been 19 trials involving 59 people.


Castillo reported from Mexico City. Associated Press editors Matthew Lee and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting.

© 2021 The Canadian Press


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