Biden administration to impose sanctions on Cuban officials following attacks on protesters


HR King
May 29, 2001
The Biden administration will announce new sanctions Thursday against a number of Cuban officials deemed directly involved in human rights abuses during a government crackdown on widespread protests earlier this month, a senior administration official said.

Imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, the sanctions will initially affect what officials said were a small number of individuals from Cuba’s Interior Ministry and military forces.
The measures come as President Biden faces increasing pressure from Congress, activist groups and Cuban Americans to take decisive action in support of the protesters.
The administration had been making its way toward implementing a new policy toward Cuba that would reverse many of the actions taken by President Donald Trump to restrict travel, trade and other forms of outreach. The Obama administration had expanded contacts when it reestablished diplomatic relations with Havana in 2015.
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But the ongoing upheaval in Cuba, including unprecedented, islandwide demonstrations that resulted in hundreds of arrests, government attacks against protesters and attempts to shut down the Internet communications that enabled demonstrations to be organized, have set the Biden administration on a new timetable and pushed it away from anything that could be seen as a concession to the communist regime.

Building an evidentiary package documenting abuse and corruption under the Global Magnitsky Act “normally … takes weeks of work,” the senior official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity under terms set by the White House. Instead, Biden “had State and Treasury drop everything they were doing and put something together in the space of a week.” The sanctions freeze any assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit U.S. travel, although they are most effective as a form of public naming and shaming.
Biden has also ordered efforts to mobilize the international community to condemn the regime’s actions. In the past, many countries willing to condemn human rights abuses have often stopped short at taking action against Cuba during decades of unrelenting U.S. pressure against the island’s leaders, from covert assassination attempts to a harsh economic embargo.
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The Cuban government has charged the United States with fomenting the demonstrations, which erupted largely over economic hardships that the government blames on the embargo, and the protesters say is the result of corruption and strict communist control.

Biden has also directed research into how to circumvent the government’s ability to stop Internet access, and formed a task force on how to allow remittances from relatives and others living in the United States to Cubans without benefiting the regime.
At the same time, the administration is trying to figure out how it can reopen its consulate in Havana to begin issuing visas to Cubans who want to leave. The United States allots 20,000 visas a year to potential Cuban immigrants, a process that was stopped when Trump closed the consulate following mysterious illnesses afflicting a number of diplomats in Havana.
As part of an interagency effort, the CIA has appointed a senior official to ascertain both the cause and perpetrator of the maladies, which have now struck hundreds of people in U.S. diplomatic facilities in countries around the world. Cuba has denied any knowledge, and the focus has now centered on possible Russian responsibility.

“We are trying to do it in a way that we’re guaranteeing the safety of U.S. personnel,” the senior official said of the consulate deliberations. With no solid answers on where the incidents came from, or even what caused the illnesses, “it takes time.”
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Officials have emphasized there are no easy paths to any of those goals. Some have suggested using satellites to beam an Internet connection to the personal smartphones that Cubans have only recently been allowed to purchase. Others have proposed launching high balloons to send the signals.
Possible solutions are “constantly evolving,” the senior official said. “Democratic actors around the world are trying to reduce efforts by autocratic regimes to restrict the information flow. … There are lots of experts, and lots of ideas.”

While some lawmakers have demanded that remittances be allowed, others have said they would inevitably serve to benefit the regime, in particular the Cuban military, which historically has taken a cut of dollars arriving from overseas. Biden said last week that he was willing to lift the limits on the payments “as long as the Cuban military was not taking a percentage,” leaving open the question of whether a different bank, even one under state control, could handle the money flow.

“The way we see it,” the official said, “we want to provide agency to Cuban Americans so that they can make the decision about how they support members of their families.”
Existing U.S. restrictions on dealings with FINCIMEX, the military-controlled bank, mean that “right now, you have to have mules that will take hard cash onto the island.” But there are additional difficulties in converting other currencies to Cuban pesos, particularly at a fair rate.



HR Legend
Oct 22, 2003
I'm sure that's going to make a difference. ::sarcasm::

When will politicians learn that sanctions, like these, rarely work.

The solution has always been the opposite of sanctions and embargos. If Cuba could freely trade, the people would reap enormous benefits in the same fashion as Vietnam, China, and Russia to name a few.
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