U.S. sanctions Cuban officials after cracking down on opposition

Protesters arrested in Cuba

Protesters arrested in Cuba

The US government has imposed sanctions on Cuban officials who claim to have committed human rights abuses during the crackdown on protests in early July.

The move by President Joe Biden’s administration comes under pressure from Cuban Americans and politicians to respond to dissident protests.

The United States is also looking for ways to keep Internet access open on the island.

The July 11 protest was the largest in Cuba in decades. Hundreds were arrested and at least one protester was killed.

Cuba has blamed the United States and its economic sanctions on protests and Cuba’s broader problems. The United States said it would support Cubans claiming their rights.

Demonstrators said they were angry with the economic collapse, food and drug shortages, price increases, and the government’s handling of Covid-19.

Sanctions announced Thursday targeted Defense Minister Alvaro Lopez Miera and special forces of the Interior Ministry, blocking transactions with all US assets and Americans.

“This is just the beginning,” Biden said in a statement. “The United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for the oppression of the Cuban people.”

During the presidential election, Mr. Biden promised to cancel then President Donald Trump’s travel and economic policies towards Cuba.

Former President Barack Obama rebuilt diplomatic relations with Havana in 2015.

White House officials say Mr Biden may increase the number of staff at the Havana embassy to help the Cuban people. Earlier this week, the White House also formed a group to discuss how Cubans living abroad can send money to their homes in a way that avoids government-controlled banks.

In recent weeks, Cuban Americans, especially those in Florida who supported Mr. Trump in the 2020 elections, have been fiercely critical of Mr. Biden’s response to the protest.

“Cuba’s policy has detained Joe Biden, who was captured between Cuban hardliners and left-handed people eager to return to Obama-era diplomatic outreach, especially on Florida’s major election battlefields. “It’s done,” said BBC North American reporter Anthony Zacher.

“It’s a delicate balance and no one may be satisfied.”