Saturday, November 27

Biden’s government sanctions the Cuban National Revolutionary Police

(CNN Español) — Joe Biden’s government announced a series of Cuba-related measures on Friday, including new sanctions and support for dissidents, as the president met with members of the Cuban-American community and key members of Congress at the White House.

“Earlier this month, Cubans took to the streets in a show of the will of the Cuban people. The regime responded with violence and repression, mass arrests, false trials and the disappearance of people who have demonstrated,” Biden said during the meeting. .

He also detailed US efforts related to remittances, staff at the US embassy in Cuba, and Internet access on the island. “Cuban-Americans are suffering … because their loved ones are suffering. And it is, frankly, intolerable,” he added.

Sanctions to the National Revolutionary Police

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the sanctions earlier Friday, designated under the Global Magnitski Act on Human Rights Responsibility.

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The sanctions are directed at the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, the country’s main security body; Oscar Callejas Valcarce, director of the police; and Eddy Sierra Arias, the deputy director.

The sanctions, the Treasury Department said, “were made in connection with actions to suppress peaceful and pro-democratic protests.”

When Biden was later asked if the United States would impose additional sanctions, the president responded to reporters: “There will be more, unless there is some drastic change in Cuba, which I do not anticipate.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez rejected the sanctions, which he rated on Twitter as “arbitrary measures” that “add to misinformation and aggression to justify inhuman blockade.” He said the Biden meeting was a “sham” and that the US government “is only interested in the electoral machinery of Florida.”

Other key efforts: aid to dissidents, embassy, ​​internet

Biden said the administration is working to help political dissidents, address the cessation of remittances from the United States, increase the staff of the American embassy in Cuba and restore connectivity on the island.

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“We are expanding our assistance to political prisoners and dissidents,” Biden said. “I ordered the State Department and the Treasury Department to provide me, within a month, with recommendations on how to maximize the flow of remittances to the Cuban people without the Cuban military taking their part. And we are working to increase the endowment of American staff at our embassy while prioritizing the safety of our staff, “he explained.

The Cuban government controls the financial sector and all communications on the island. Biden has said that he believes that under the current circumstances remittances would end up in the hands of the regime.

Bypassing the government to send money or improving and expanding Internet access are challenges that other US administrations have tried unsuccessfully to overcome, but the issue has grown in urgency in the wake of widespread, historic protests.

The president indicated that the United States is “increasing direct support for the Cuban people by seeking all available options to provide Internet access to help (…) the Cuban people bypass the censorship that is being mandatorily imposed.” Biden had previously said that his administration was working with civil society organizations and the private sector “to provide Internet access to the Cuban people who bypass the regime’s censorship efforts.”

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The government has been in contact with private providers to discuss LTE connection options, a senior administration official told reporters on Friday before the president’s meeting.

The official also said that “given the July 11 protests, it is important that US diplomats interact directly with the Cuban people.” “And if we can do that in a way that ensures the safety of American personnel, it is something that we will undertake.”

Who met with President Biden?

Friday’s meeting took place weeks after the largest protests in decades in Cuba, in which thousands of people took to the streets to protest the lack of food and medicine at a time when the country is going through a serious crisis. worsened by the covid-19 pandemic and the United States sanctions.

Meanwhile, Democrats are also under pressure to take a tougher line against the Cuban regime in the light of the strides former President Donald Trump made in 2020 among Cuban-Americans in Florida.

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The list of attendees scheduled to meet with the president included Felice Gorordo, CEO of eMerge Americas and co-founder of Roots of Hope; Yotuel Romero, singer of the Cuban hip hop group Orishas and author of ‘Patria y Vida’, the song that has become an anthem for the protesters; Ana Sofia Peláez, founder of the Miami Freedom Project and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey and House Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks also attended.

The Biden government’s previous sanctions on Cuba

The Biden government last week sanctioned a key Cuban regime official and a government special forces unit known as the Black Berets for human rights abuses in the framework of historic protests.

Last week’s sanctions came after Cuban-American groups and some members of Congress criticized the administration for not taking a tough enough approach to the Cuban regime.

Biden said during the presidential campaign that he would try to reverse Trump-era policies on Cuba that he says have “inflicted harm on Cubans and their families.” However, Biden’s review of these policies is ongoing, and people familiar with the discussions told CNN that it is unlikely that, as a result of the review process, a return to the Obama-era policy of normalizing relations with La Havana

In recent years, the Cuban government has shown no signs of easing its political and economic repression of the Cuban people, seriously reducing the Biden administration’s options to re-normalize ties.

“Freedom and intervention”, the cry of Cubans in Miami 3:03

Democrats in South Florida they have been privately and publicly urging party leaders to embrace protests against Cuba’s communist regime. These Democrats believe that supporting the Cuban people could help the party regain ground with the state’s Hispanic voters. Almost half of them voted for Trump in 2020, a change of almost 10 points compared to the results that had been registered four years earlier.

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