Biden hits Cuba with more sanctions over its crackdown on protesters

Washington DC - The Biden administration on Thursday announced a new round of sanctions against the Cuban government for its violent crackdown on demonstrators.

Joe Biden announced a new raft of sanctions targeted at Cuban government officials.
Joe Biden announced a new raft of sanctions targeted at Cuban government officials.  © Collage: IMAGO / MediaPunch & 123RF/wrangel

Officials said the sanctions target specific members of the communist-ruled island’s government who are deemed responsible for the repression of protesters demanding more freedom, food, and health care.

"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 United States stands with the brave Cubans who have taken to the streets to oppose 62 years of repression under a communist regime."

The measures come as Biden faces mounting criticism from hard-liners in both political parties in Congress seeking stronger retaliation against Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and his associates.

It is unclear, however, what effect the sanctions would have since few of those blacklisted individuals are likely to have assets in the US or business dealings with US firms.

Some conduct business in Europe and Latin America, and the US sanctions could have an effect there.

Cuba hawks call for more actions

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel at a rally in response to the July 11 anti-government protests.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel at a rally in response to the July 11 anti-government protests.  © IMAGO / Agencia EFE

Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a prominent hawk in Washington on Cuba, said the key was to erode confidence within Cuba’s security forces.

"This is welcome additional pressure," he said on broadcaster MSNBC, "but more needs to be done." He urged a diplomatic push by the Organization of American States and other regional bodies, with Washington in the lead.

The US has maintained a crippling economic embargo since the early 1960s, shortly after the late Fidel Castro led a revolution to topple the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro soon imposed one-party communist rule on the island, which limited basic political freedoms but vastly improved health and education services for much of the population. Over the years, the US has repeatedly attempted to impose regime change, through covert and overt military operations.

Biden and his advisers, early in his administration, said they would begin to relax some of the harsh measures imposed by former president Donald Trump, who was reversing an opening overseen by his predecessor.

The Biden administration said it would revive travel between the US and Cuba and make it easier for Cuban Americans to send remittances to relatives. That has not yet happened and the US sanctions continue to affect all aspects of life on the island nation.

Biden said Thursday that officials were "reviewing our remittance policy to determine how we can maximize support to the Cuban people."

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / MediaPunch & 123RF/wrangel

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