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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.

Go deeper

U.S. elected to rejoin UN Human Rights Council after exit under Trump

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has been elected to rejoin on the UN Human Rights Council, the State Department announced Thursday, three years after former President Trump walked out on the panel citing bias against Israel.

Flashback: The Biden administration announced in February it planned to rejoin the council, acknowledging what it called an "unacceptable bias against Israel," but arguing that being a member would help the U.S. advance its own interests.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.

Biden to Dems: This is my make-or-break moment

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.