The Biden administration imposed new sanctions on Cuban government elements on Friday for “violent suppression” of recent protests.
The sanctions came as part of a slew of new policy initiatives announced by President Joe Biden’s administration.
“Earlier this month, Cubans took to the street in a show of the will of the people of Cuba,” Biden said during a State Dining Room meeting with Cuban American leaders.
“The regime responded with violence and repression, mass detentions, sham trials and people disappearing who have spoken out. Cuban Americans are hurting because their loved ones are suffering. And it’s, quite frankly, intolerable.”
The anti-government protests, which began earlier this month, are the largest seen in the communist country in decades, with people taking to the streets in Havana and other cities as Cuba continues to suffer from a deepening economic crisis and the pandemic.
According to the Treasury Department, the sanctions are aimed at the Cuban Revolutionary National Police, or PNR, as well as its leaders, Director Oscar Callejas Valcárcel and Deputy Director Eddy Sierra Arias.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Cuba, and today’s designations result in an additional layer of restrictions on the PNR and its leaders,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“We are making it clear that anyone who supplies Cuba’s brutal police force, the Special National Brigade, the Interior Ministry, or any other Cuban individuals or entities designated under the Global Magnitsky program may face sanctions risk of their own. We will continue to take action to promote accountability for the Cuban government’s human rights abuses.”