In another step forward in the US embargo on Cuba, the government of Joe Biden announced on Friday (30) a new set of sanctions. This time, the Revolutionary National Police, subordinate to the Cuban Interior Ministry, and two of its leaders are in the crosshairs.
The US Treasury Department has justified that the measure is a response to police repression used in acts that swept through the streets of the Caribbean island on the 11th – considered the most important in nearly three decades.
“Police officers were photographed confronting and arresting protesters in Havana [a capital], including the movement of mothers of the “11 de Julho”, a group founded to organize the families of prisoners and missing, “Treasury said in a statement.
Using a similar argument, the United States announced another round of sanctions against Cuba last week. At the time, the measures were imposed on a general and a Cuban government security unit.
With Friday’s new protest, Biden is showing signs of his intention to continue diplomatic relations with Cuba.
The Democrat was Barack Obama’s deputy, who advanced in dialogues with the island’s communist regime and even relaxed the embargo – although the authority that can completely dissolve it is Congress. By taking over the White House, however, Biden inherited the record from Donald Trump, who resumed a policy of retaliation against the island, and, so far, has shown little appetite for change.
The announcement of the new sanctions came in parallel with Biden’s meeting with members of the Cuban community who, abroad, oppose the regime led by Miguel Díaz-Canel. According to the Reuters news agency, singer Yotuel Romero, one of the backers of hip-hop group Orishas, and Ana Sofia Palaez, founder of the Miami Freedom Project, a group that operates in Miami, where there is a powerful domestic lobby. , participated in the meeting of Cuban-American exiles.
Yotuel is also the co-author of the song “Pátria y Vida”, which went viral on social networks earlier this year when he questioned the Cuban regime and denounced the political and economic situation on the island. He called for action by the exiled Cuban community in Madrid (Spain), where he lives with his family, and in the United States.
The meeting is expected to advance another US government initiative: the possible increase in the US Embassy contingent in Cuba and a review of the policy for sending remittances to the island. The US State Department announced its intentions on the 20th, but soon after came announcements of increased sanctions.
Cuba has been under an American embargo for more than six decades, since the early years of the Cuban Revolution. What started as political retaliation against the Communist regime has turned into a tangle of legislation that makes it difficult for the island to establish trade relations with other countries, especially the United States.
The issue resurfaced after popular protests that took to the streets of several Cuban provinces calling for more political freedom and policies to tackle the shortage of food and medicine – a situation that worsened on the island during the pandemic and the resulting paralysis of tourism, the engine of the economy.
The protests were suppressed by the regime, and activists denounced hundreds of arrests on social media. A man died during the protests, public authorities confirmed.
The Cuban regime accuses the American embargo, which would stifle the national economy, of being the cause of the problem and of popular discontent. The mechanism is criticized by much of the international community and by activists around the world. Yet experts counter that there are a number of factors behind the actions – two of the main ones being the desire for more freedom and the loss of purchasing power triggered by a currency reunification project.