Joe Biden continues to pressure the Cuban dictatorship in the midst of a wave of repression against the demonstrators who are protesting in favor of democracy. This Friday, the United States Treasury Department issued a new round of sanctions against Castroism, the second this month.
The president himself has said that «there will be more penalties unless there are changes drastic on the island ”, something he said that he does not think will happen. He also said that he is working on a plan to bring the internet to the island in the event that the dictatorship cuts it off to prevent protests from being called.
The president met with leaders of the Cuban exile and with the two Democrats who preside over the Senate Foreign Committees, Robert Menéndez, and the House of Representatives, Gregory Meeks.
Minutes earlier, the White House imposed sanctions on the Cuban National Revolutionary Police and two of its leaders: its director, Oscar Callejas Valcarce, and its deputy director, Eddy Sierra Arias, for the role they have played in suppressing the anti-government protests that began on July 11.
These sanctions are applied within the framework of the call Ley Magnitsky, approved by the Capitol in 2012 in response to the repression in Russia and that allows the US to sanction foreigners who are suspected of violating human rights, as well as serious cases of corruption.
Under that law, the White House can prohibit visas and freeze assets in North American territory of any foreigner who is subjected to these sanctions. In practice, it significantly limits their ability to travel internationally and launder their assets.
As stated by the Treasury in the announcement of the sanctions, “from the beginning of the July 2021 protests in Cuba, the Cuban regime deployed the Revolutionary National Police, a police unit dependent on the Cuban Interior Ministry, to repress and attack the protesters. Led by director Callejas and deputy director Sierra, the National Revolutionary Police was photographed confronting and detaining protesters in Havana.
The US Treasury adds that “in Camagüey, a Catholic priest was beaten and detained by the National Revolutionary Police while defending young protesters; Agents of the National Revolutionary Police also beat a group of peaceful protesters, including several minors. In addition, there have been several recorded cases in which the National Revolutionary Police used sticks to violently break up peaceful protests in Cuba.
Already on July 22, the White House 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 directly involved in the repression and human rights violations.
The Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior was already sanctioned in January by the Trump administration, which sanctioned the entire Ministry of the Interior and the responsible minister en bloc, Lazaro Alberto Álvarez Casas, under the same Magnitsky Law.