WASHINGTON – The Biden administration announced new sanctions Friday against Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police and its top two officials, as the United States seeks to increase pressure on the communist regime following protests on the island this month.
The latest sanctions announced by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted the Police Nacional Revolciónaria (PNR) and the agency’s directors and deputy directors, Oscar Callejas Valcars and Eddie Sierra Arias. The police are part of Cuba’s interior ministry, which was already the subject of a blanket designation by the Trump administration in January.
“We hear the call for independence coming from the island. The United States is taking concrete action to strengthen the cause of the Cuban people,” President Joe Biden said at the start of a White House meeting with Cuban Americans not long after the Treasury announced sanctions.
The administration says it is considering a wide range of additional options in response to the protests, including providing Internet access to Cubans, and an act to review US remittance policy to ensure The group that made more and more money sending Cuban Americans home makes it. Directly in the hands of their families without cutting governance. Biden said more sanctions are to come.
The White House meeting comes nearly three weeks after the unusual July 11 protests in which thousands of Cubans took to the streets in Havana and other cities to protest against Cuba’s communist regime. They were the first such protests since the 1990s.
The Treasury Department said in a statement that the Cuban government had deployed a PNR to attack the protesters. According to the Treasury, police were photographed confronting and arresting protesters in Havana, including members of the July 11 Mothers’ movement, a group set up to organize the families of imprisoned and missing.
In Camague, a Catholic priest was beaten up and arrested by a PNR while he was defending young protesters, according to the Treasury. The Treasury said PNR officers also beat up a group of peaceful protesters, including several minors, and there are documents showing PNR used clubs to break up peaceful protests in Cuba.
“The Treasury Department will continue to designate and name individuals who facilitate the Cuban regime’s involvement in serious human rights abuses,” said Andrea Gacci, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. “Today’s action serves to hold more accountable those responsible for suppressing calls for respect for the liberties and human rights of the Cuban people.”
At a meeting of Cuban American activists with Biden was Yotuel Romero, who chanted “Patria y Vida!” He was one of the authors of the song. An official said, which has become a kind of anthem for the protest.
Other attendees included the company eMerge Americas CEO L. Felice Gorordo included; Ana Sofia Pélez, founder of the Miami Freedom Project, and former Miami mayor, Manny Diaz, and Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
White House officials said Biden would discuss new restrictions as well as ways to potentially set up internet access for Cubans.
Internet access is a sensitive issue in Cuba. In the days before the recent protests, calls for anti-regime demonstrations were pouring in on social media. The Cuban regime said anti-Castro groups in the United States have used social media, particularly Twitter, to campaign against it and blamed Twitter for doing nothing to stop it.
Internet service was suspended at one point during the July 11 protests, although the Cuban regime has not explicitly acknowledged that they have done so.
Some US leaders, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have said the White House should do something to maintain internet service in Cuba, including using balloons as Wi-Fi access points for the population.
The Biden administration is also considering proposals made by US advocates of trade with Cuba that would restore ways for Cuban-Americans to send money to relatives on the island.
Biden and others have ruled out an outright resumption of remittances because of the percentage fee of transactions paid to the Cuban regime. But there is a proposal being considered, according to proponents, transfer agents will waive that fee by the end of the year.
However, the proposal would have to be approved by the Cuban regime, and it is not clear at all whether it will be agreed.
Last week, the US government announced sanctions against Cuban Armed Forces Minister lvaro López Miera and the Interior Ministry’s special brigades—known as “Black Berets”—for participating in the arrests of protesters.
International organizations have strongly criticized the Cuban regime.
It is not yet clear how many people were taken into custody, although judicial officials have said that 19 cases involving 59 people have been held.
The Epoch Times