U.S. Sanctions Cuba for Crackdowns on Protesters
Drawing attention to police violence in the United States, the Foreign Minister added: “It should instead apply to itself the Magnitsky Global Act for systematic repression and police brutality which claimed the lives of 1021 people in 2020. “
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, described the sanctions as part of a range of responses Mr. Biden would deploy to help Cubans grapple with government oppression and a growing humanitarian crisis. She said “tackling this moment was a priority for the administration.”
As vice president under the Obama administration, Biden oversaw a policy that restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in more than half a century. But he took a tougher stance as president, a stance that has generally been warmly welcomed by members of Congress – including some Democrats who were in the awkward position of siding with President Donald J. Trump consistently. to contain the Communist government of Cuba.
Cubans are increasingly frustrated with their government amid an economic crisis that has included food shortages, power cuts, skyrocketing inflation and a growing number of Covid-19 deaths. The Cuban government, for its part, blamed the United States for a trade embargo and, last week, accused American officials of stoking the unrest.
“Our message could not be clearer: the United States is on the side of the Cuban people and there will be consequences for those with blood on their hands,” said Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and President the foreign relations committee, said on twitter. Mr. Biden “is absolutely right to hold the Cuban regime responsible as it violently tries to crush the hopes and dreams of Cubans.”
The State Department is also considering allowing Americans to send money to relatives and friends in Cuba through a transfer process that in the past has been exploited by government officials who have seized part of the funds. Department spokesman Ned Price said this week that the Biden administration was examining how to put the money “directly into the hands of the Cuban people.”
In addition, Price said, the department could increase the number of U.S. diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Havana, where the Trump administration has set the number of employees to the bare minimum. It’s unclear when or if the Biden administration will move forward on both fronts.
Ernesto Londoño and Francoise Robles contributed reports.
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