The White House has sanctioned the Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, Alvaro Lopez Miera, and the National Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior, the so-called Black Berets, whom it considers to be directly involved in the repression and human rights violations during the Castro regime’s response to the recent pro-democracy protests, according to the presidency on Thursday.
These sanctions are also applied within the framework of the so-called Magnitsky Law, approved by the Capitol in 2012 in response to the repression in Russia and which allows EE.UU. punish foreigners who are suspected of violating human rights, as well as serious cases of corruption. These new sanctions, President Joe Biden’s formal response to the wave of repression on the island, will initially affect a small number of Interior Ministry officials in addition to the Black Berets. The latter are formally called the Special National Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior of Cuba, and they are an elite unit of the Cuban special forces that the dictatorship has deployed in recent days to suppress protests.
The Cuban Police have arrested more than 500 protesters and activists who were among the thousands who took to the streets on July 11 to protest the deterioration of living conditions, the lack of freedoms and the shortage of basic goods and services. , including vaccines against Covid-19. Among them, the correspondent for this newspaper, Camila Acosta, was arrested.
Biden faces mounting pressure from much of the Capitol and the Cuban exile, who last week protested in Washington, to take decisive action in support of the protesters.
As a senior US official told this newspaper on Monday, Biden’s team has been studying sanctions through the Treasury. According to these sources, the Office for the Control of Foreign Assets, in charge of economic penalties, worked together with the State Department in the designation of Cuban officials responsible for the violence, repression and human rights violations against peaceful protesters in Cuba.
In addition, the White House is working on measures that include creating a working group that will analyze whether it is convenient to make changes in the permits to send remittances to the island; will increase its staff at the Embassy of Havana to reinforce aid programs for civil society, and it will ensure that there are ways to maintain internet connection on the island if it is cut off by the Castro dictatorship.
Since arriving at the White House in January, Biden’s team has been studying whether to finally turn around in Cuba policy, something that the president himself promised to do in the electoral campaign. Biden’s main short-term mission was to re-allow money remittances from relatives of Cubans living in the US, after they were banned by Donald Trump.
Now, White House sources have told ABC that Trump’s decisions, especially that of including Cuba in the list of promoters of terrorismhave been an insurmountable obstacle to opening a new chapter in relations between Washington and Havana.
In his last days in office, Trump decided, surprisingly, to return Cuba to the list of countries that promote terrorism. Inclusion on the list has very serious practical effects: it means that the island cannot access economic aid from the United States and that the United States will oppose loans and lines of credit in financial institutions in which it has a vote, such as the IMF or the Bank. World.
Before that decision, Trump took another that has turned out to be a severe blow to the regime. For a few sanctions yours to the financial Fincimex, counterpart of Western Union, the latter was forced to close on the island. The main legal route for sending remittances to the island was thus closed, which according to Trump’s critics has aggravated the economic crisis on the island.
The focus of the White House has now had to change unexpectedly, as the regime has suppressed democratic protest not only with mass arrests, but also by cutting off internet access on the island. This has led Biden’s team to consider options to offer the internet while circumventing the regime’s vetoes.
Biden has also called on his partners in the international community to mobilize to condemn the regime’s actions. It so happens that the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, is in the US, but does not visit Washington, nor does he plan to speak with Biden. In addition, as he said in a conversation with journalists in New York, he believes that the US embargo is counterproductive.