The White House announced a plan last week to sanction Cuban officials for human rights violations following major protests against Cuba’s communist regime.
“Today, my Administration is imposing new sanctions targeting elements of the Cuban regime responsible for this crackdown—the head of the Cuban military and the division of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior driving the crackdown—to hold them accountable for their actions,” Joe Biden said in a statement on Thursday. “This is just the beginning–the United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people.”
Biden emphasized his support for the Cuban people in their fight for freedom after receiving major backlash from GOP members and Cuban exiles for the administration’s initial response to the Cuban government, which included a plan involving remittances and an increased staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana, according to The Daily Wire.
In another press release, the U.S. Treasury Department said the sanctions will target Alvaro Lopez Miera, head of Cuba’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and Bonias Negras, a group also known as the National Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior over human rights violations pertaining to Cuban protests under the Global Magnitsky Act, which permits sanctions for individuals or groups of individuals taking part in human right violations or corruption.
Cuban officials have reportedly carried out mass arrests, cut internet access, and deployed government forces to confront Cuban protesters, The Epoch Times reported.
Biden’s decision comes as a shock considering one of his campaign promises was to undo restrictions President Donald Trump imposed on Cuba. He could receive major backlash from his Democrat colleagues after he insinuated that it was Trump’s harsh restrictions on Cuban and the embargo that led to the destruction of Cuba, rather than its communist government, and even called for the U.S. government to lift the restrictions, before he implemented his own.
Days before the Biden administration officially announced their plans to sanction Cuban officials, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., criticized the “administration’s defense of the embargo” and called for an end to it.