The Biden administration, on Friday, July 30, introduced new sanctions against Cuban authorities, including the police force, for using violence to crack down on peaceful protesters.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced that the penalties target Cuban police director Oscar Callejas Valcarce and his deputy, Eddy Sierra Arias, as well as the entire police force on the island.
“The Treasury Department will continue to designate and call out by name those who facilitate the Cuban regime’s involvement in serious human rights abuse,” wrote Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, as reported by CNBC.
Speaking at a meeting with Cuban-American leaders at the White House, President Biden warned that the Friday sanctions will not be the last the U.S. would impose to settle the human rights abuse issues associated with how Cuban citizens are treated by their government.
“There will be more, unless there’s some drastic change in Cuba, which I don’t anticipate,” he said, according to CNN. “The United States is taking concerted action to bolster the cause of the Cuban people.”
The new sanctions were guided by The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, Treasury Department said.
Those who are targeted by the Magnitsky Act will be barred from entering the United States, and their assets in the United States will be frozen.
The administration had tasked the Treasury and State departments to quickly work out how to allow Americans to send money to Cubans without the Cuban government benefitting.
The financial sector and all communications on the island are under the Cuban government’s grasp, the news outlet noted. Under such conditions, Biden believes remittances would end up in the hands of the Communist regime.
Further to his promise of helping Cuban citizens, Biden said that the U.S. would try to help political dissidents, have more staff in the U.S. embassy in Cuba, and find ways to provide internet connection for Cuban citizens to counter the government’s censorship.
The protests emerged earlier this month amid Cuba’s harshest economic crisis and the raging CCP Virus outbreak on the island.
Thousands of people came to the streets, enraged by food shortages, restrictions on freedoms, and the government’s response to the pandemic. The demonstration had been said to be the most dramatic in a decade that the Cuban government had witnessed.
Likewise, while Cuban President Diaz-Canel Bermudez blamed the failing economy on the U.S.’s trade sanctions, he also promised to “do anything” to extinguish the protests CNBC reported.
“We will be battling in the streets,” he said while accusing the United States of contributing to the bursting protests.
The U.S. Treasury slapped penalties against Cuba’s defense minister and a special forces unit of the interior ministry last week, citing charges of human rights violations in the onslaught that followed the protests, which resulted in the detention of hundreds of people.
Both the Republicans and Democrats had shared the same views in pushing for more sanctions against the Cuban government.