Aug 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. imposes sanctions on Cuban officials over violent response to protests

Picture of a protest in Cuba with a crowd of people, they're all wearing masks and holding Cuban flags

Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

The Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned two Cuban officials and a Cuban military unit over the government's violent response to peaceful protests that took place on the island in July.

The big picture: The protests were the largest demonstrations against the communist government in decades as the country faces one of its worst economic crises.

Details: The department is specifically sanctioning Romarico Vidal Sotomayor Garcia and Pedro Orlando Martinez Fernandez of the Cuban Ministry of Interior and the Tropas de Prevención (TDP), a unit from the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces.

  • The two men were found to have acted on behalf of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, which is considered to have been responsible for serious human rights abuses.
  • Meanwhile, the Treasury Department said that the TDP was "involved in a violent engagement with a protestor."

What they're saying: "The Treasury Department will continue to designate those who enable the Cuban government to perpetuate human rights abuses against peaceful demonstrators," said Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

  • "Today’s action shines a spotlight on additional perpetrators responsible for suppressing the Cuban people’s calls for freedom and respect for human rights."

The other side: "I reject the US opportunistic measures against Cuba's Ministry of Interior officers and Armed Forces Prevention Troops," said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez on Twitter.

  • "Such measures reflect double standards of a government used to manipulation and lies to maintain the blockade against Cuba," he added.
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