A senior Biden administration official told the Miami Herald that the government is looking for a way for family members of Cubans living in the United States to send money to their loved ones without interference from the Cuban regime, as well as considering increasing diplomatic staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
In a sudden shift from what was the Biden administration’s initial response that said the protests were because of the Cuban communist regime’s pandemic poor response to the pandemic, the senior official told the Herald:
“At President Biden’s direction, the United States is actively pursuing measures that will both support the Cuban people and hold the Cuban regime accountable.”
“The administration will form a Remittance Working Group to identify the most effective way to get remittances directly into the hands of the Cuban people,” the official said.
In addition, the State Department “will review planning to augment staffing of U.S. Embassy Havana to facilitate diplomatic, consular, and civil society engagement, and an appropriate security posture.”
During Donald Trump’s administration, the system for sending money to Cubans was blocked because the regime intercepted the funds, and they never reached the hands of their recipients.
Sanctions imposed on Fincimex—a Cuban financial institution that handles transfers—for its ties to the Cuban military caused Western Union to suspend its services in Cuba in 2020, leaving many Cuban Americans without a legal way to send money to their family members.
Trump also blocked flights and cruises to Cuba. Because of its close relationship with regimes such as Iran and its support for the Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela, he placed the island on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
Pressure from the Cuban American community
The protests in Cuba and the repression by the Cuban regime made news worldwide thanks to the role of social media, where protesters were able to upload videos of the events.
In response the regime cut the Internet signal, and little is now known about what is happening in Cuba.
Miami’s Cuban American community has been pressuring lawmakers and the Biden administration to take a harsher stance against the tyranny of the Cuban regime.
In this regard, the official confirmed the Biden administration is working with Congress and the private sector to look for “viable options” to make the Internet more accessible to Cubans.
The Treasury Department is also considering sanctions against Cuban officials involved in the crackdown on protesters.
“On July 11, the world watched as tens of thousands of Cuban citizens marched through Havana and cities across Cuba bravely asserting their fundamental and universal rights and demanding freedom and relief from the oppression of Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” the official said. “The Biden-Harris administration has and will continue to stand with the Cuban people.”
There is no turning back
Cuba is facing an unprecedented scenario of protests and police repression, and for many dissidents, the economic, social, and political situation is so serious that there is no turning back.
One of those who believes that the Cuban people will remain in the streets, to the last consequences, is Cuban doctor and dissident José Raúl Rodríguez Rangel.
“The people are left without a house. Not the physical house, the architecture. They don’t have a place to live, they don’t have a place to go back to. They don’t have that place to go. Because they can no longer see their children cry. They cannot go on seeing their grandparents die in bed -there are so many testimonies- because there is no oxygen or the ambulance did not go to pick them up and they died because of Covid-19”, said the Cuban doctor who now lives in Argentina.
“Everyone knows that the government is responsible. But also, the government does not have an answer. That’s why the protests are going to spread and the worldwide protest it’s important because people simply have nowhere to go back to. People must stay in the streets. There is no turning back,” added José Rangel.