On Friday, the United States imposed new sanctions on two high-ranking officials in the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and a military unit, in the latest American measure in response to the suppression of protesters against the island’s government.
The US Treasury targeted senior officials in the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and the “Red Beret” unit for their role in suppressing the recent demonstrations on the communist island, in which hundreds of participants were imprisoned.
Andrea M Gacki, director of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said the sanctions imposed today “highlight additional perpetrators responsible for the suppression of the Cuban people’s demands for freedom and respect for human rights.”
This package of sanctions is the third imposed by the administration of US President Joe Biden, who has threatened to take more punitive measures unless Havana undertakes tangible reforms.
The US Treasury has previously imposed sanctions on the Cuban police and pledged to take further measures against those “who have committed human rights violations by attacking peaceful demonstrators.”
Similar to its position on previous sanctions, Havana expressed its protest against the latest US measure.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla declared on Twitter that these measures “Such measures reflect double standards of a government used to manipulation and lies to maintain the blockade against Cuba,” referring to the embargo imposed by Washington on Havana since 1962.
I reject the US opportunistic measures against Cuba's Ministry of Interior officers and Armed Forces Prevention Troops.
Such measures reflect double standards of a government used to manipulation and lies to maintain the blockade against #Cuba.
— Bruno Rodríguez P (@BrunoRguezP) August 13, 2021
The measures announced Friday target officials in the Cuban Ministry of Interior Romarico Vidal Sotomayor Garcia, Pedro Orlando Martinez Fernandez, and the Red Beret Unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
The inclusion of the officials and the unit on the Treasury Department’s list of sanctioned entities means that their holdings in the United States are frozen and American companies are prohibited from doing business with them.
Sotomayor is the head of the political directorate in the ministry, which is the department that deployed forces to quell protests that erupted last month, while Martinez is the head of the political directorate of the National Revolutionary Police, which has previously been sanctioned with the Revolutionary Armed Forces, according to the US Treasury.
The US Treasury said in a statement that security forces “violently attacked and arrested protesters in Cuba.”
Biden says that he is closely watching developments in Cuba, and Washington has called for the release of the detainees and announced that it is looking for ways to make the Internet available to the Cuban people, in order to bypass the censorship imposed by Havana.