US imposes new Cuba sanctions over human rights abuses
The Biden administration announced new sanctions Thursday against a Cuban official and a government entity that it says was involved in human rights abuses during a government crackdown on protests on the island earlier this month.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control listed Alvaro Lopez Miera, a Cuban military and political leader, and the Brigada Especial Nacional del Ministerio del Interior, or Interior Ministry Special Brigade, as among those who will face the latest sanctions.
Treasury said in a statement that Lopez Miera “has played an integral role in the repression of ongoing protests in Cuba”. Cuba’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, which is led to by Lopez Miera, and other Cuban government’s security services, have attacked protesters and arrested or disappeared over 100 protesters in an attempt to suppress these protests, according to Treasury.
The Interior Ministry Special Brigade was already sanctioned in January by the Trump administration, which targeted the entire ministry and Interior Minister Lazaro Alberto Alvarez Casas under the Global Magnitsky Act.
“I unequivocally condemn the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing to prison those who dared to speak out in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people into silence,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “The Cuban people have the same right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as all people.”
The move comes after the White House earlier this week announced that Biden had ordered his administration to take several steps to raise pressure on the communist regime after thousands of Cubans took to the streets of Havana and other cities across the island earlier this month to protest food shortages and high prices during the coronavirus crisis.