© Reuters. On July 30, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden had a virtual meeting with the governor in the Southern Court Auditorium of the White House Complex in Washington, U.S., to discuss efforts to strengthen wildfire prevention, preparation, and response. REUTERS/Evelyn Ho
Author: Jeff Mason and Steve Holland
Washington (Reuters)-The United States imposed sanctions on the Cuban police force and its two leaders on Friday in response to the Havana government’s crackdown on protesters. President Joe Biden promised Cuban-American leaders that more action will be taken .
The U.S. Treasury Department stated that the sanctions appear to be primarily symbolic and are a response to the “action to suppress peaceful and democratic protests in Cuba that began on July 11.”
The department stated that the sanctions targeted two leaders of the Cuban police force and the national police force of the Cuban Ministry of Interior.
When meeting with Cuban-American leaders at the White House, Biden said: “Unless there are some drastic changes in Cuba that I didn’t expect, there will be more.”
His meeting came as a politically important community called for more support for the Cuban protests representing the largest populists https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/street-protests-break-out- cuba-2021-07-11 For decades, opposition to the government has continued to emerge on this island controlled by the Communist Party.
Biden said: “The United States is taking concerted action to support the cause of the Cuban people.”
Biden said that he has asked the Treasury Department and the State Department to report within one month how to allow Americans to send money to Cubans without profiting the Cuban government.
In addition, a senior government official said that Biden has been developing a plan to try to provide wireless communications to Cubans and increase the staff of the US embassy in Cuba.
The outbreak of the protests this month coincides with Cuba’s worst economic crisis since the collapse of its old Soviet alliance and a record surge in coronavirus infections. Thousands of people took to the streets, angry at the shortage of basic commodities, restrictions on civil liberties, and the authorities’ handling of the pandemic.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed the unrest on the United States, which has tightened its decades-long trade embargo on the island in recent years. He has stated that many protesters are sincere, but are manipulated by social media campaigns orchestrated by the United States.
Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against the Cuban Secretary of Defense https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/us-impose-sanctions-cuban-officials-over-crackdown-protests-source-2021-07-22 A department of the Special Forces of the Ministry of the Interior questioned allegations of human rights violations in the post-protest crackdown, which resulted in the detention of hundreds of activists.
Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill urged more measures.
Participants in Friday’s meeting included hip-hop musician Yotuel Romero, author of “Patria y Vida”, which has become the national anthem of the protesters; Ana Sofia Pelaez, founder of the Miami Freedom Project; and former Miami Mayor Mannedy Yaz.
Cuban-Americans seek stricter policies
The 1.5 million Cuban Americans in Florida voted vigorously for Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Winning their support is crucial for Biden’s Democrats to win the swing state in the 2024 presidential election.
John Suarez, executive director of the Free Cuba Center, said: “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 him among voters in Florida. “If the regime collapses under his supervision, it may change the rules of the game.”
Gennadi Rodriguez, 40, said that he moved from Cuba to Miami in 2013, and he said he thought Biden had been too slow in addressing Cuban policies in the months leading up to the protests. The Biden administration has conducted a long review of its Cuban policy inherited from the Donald Trump administration.
Rodriguez said that Biden is unlikely to please Cuban-American hardliners without clashing with liberal voters.
“Biden puts himself in a lose-lose situation. Now it will be more difficult for him to choose to participate in policy,” he said.
Alejandro Ortiz, 32, who also moved from Cuba to Miami, said that he thought Biden was too slow to react to the Cuban government after the protests.
“I saw a kind of passive attitude,” he said. “He needs to take faster and stricter measures.”