The administration says it is considering a range of additional options, including providing internet access to Cubans.
The Biden administration has announced new sanctions Friday against Cuba’s national revolutionary police and its two leading officials as the US seeks to increase pressure on the communist government following protests this month on the island.
The Police Nacional Revolcionaria and the agency’s director and deputy director, Oscar Callejas Valcarce and Eddie Sierra Arias, have been targeted in the latest sanctions announced by the department of the Treasury’s Foreign Asset Management Office. The police are part of Cuba’s Interior Ministry, which was already a blanket of the Trump administration in January.
“We hear the cries of freedom coming from the island. “The United States is taking joint action to strengthen the cause of the Cuban population,” President Joe Biden said at the start of a White House meeting with Cuban Americans, not long after the Treasury announced the sanctions.
The administration said it was considering a wide range of additional options in response to the protests, including providing Internet access to Cubans, and set up a working group to review U.S. repayment policies to ensure that more of the money Cuban Americans send home makes it directly into the hands of their families without government cuts. . Biden added that more sanctions are on the way.
The White House meeting comes almost three weeks after it was unusual July 11 protest in which thousands of Cubans took to the streets in Havana and other cities to protest shortages, power outages and government policies. These were the first protests since the 1990s.
The Cuban regime has deployed the PNR to attack protesters, the Treasury Department said in a statement. According to the treasury, police were taken down where they confronted and arrested protesters in Havana, including members of the Movement of 11 July Mothers, a group set up to organize families of the prisoners and disappear.
White House officials said Biden would discuss the new sanctions, as well as ways to provide access to the Internet for the Cuban people.
Internet access is a sensitive issue in Cuba. In the days before the recent protests, there were calls for protests against the government on social media. The Cuban government says anti-Castro groups in the US have used it social media, especially Twitter, to campaign against it and blame Twitter for not doing anything to stop it.
Internet service was cut off at some point during the protests, although the Cuban authorities did not explicitly admit that they did.
The Biden administration is also considering proposals put forward by U.S. proponents of trade with Cuba that could restore Cuban Americans to sending money to family members on the island.
1.5 million Cuban Americans in Florida voted strongly for Republican Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election. To regain their support is essential for Biden’s Democratic Party to clinch the swing state in the 2024 presidential election.
“I think if Biden has a successful Cuban policy that can put the regime on the defensive and provide concrete support to Cubans, it will benefit voters in Florida,” said John Suarez, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba. . . ‘If the regime collapses on its watch, it could be a game changer.
Guennady Rodriguez, 40, who said he moved from Cuba to Miami in 2013, said he thought Biden was moving too slowly to address Cuban policy in the months leading up to the protests. The Biden administration is conducting a lengthy review of the Cuban policies it inherited from the Donald Trump administration.
Rodriguez said it was unlikely Biden would satisfy Cuban-American constipation without insulting liberal voters.
Biden has put himself in a losing-losing position. “Now it will be more difficult for him to choose a commitment policy,” he said.
Alejandro Ortiz, 32, who also moved from Cuba to Miami, said he thought Biden’s reaction to the Cuban government after the protests was too slow.
“I see a bit of a passive attitude,” he said. “He had to be faster and more serious with his measures.”