US imposes sanctions against more Cuban officials

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Workers of a Cuban organization unload a donation of 1.6 million syringes sent by Cuban solidarity groups based in the US for the vaccination campaign against COVID-19, in Havana, the US, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The United States has imposed sanctions on three senior Cuban officials, claiming they were involved in the government’s crackdown on US-inspired protests last month.

The move on Thursday targeted Roberto Legra Sotolongo and Andres Laureano Gonzalez Brito of the Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces as well as Abelardo Jimenez Gonzalez, who is in charge of prisons at the Interior Ministry.

Washington "will continue to hold accountable those who enable the Cuban government to perpetuate human rights abuse," claimed Andrea M. Gacki, head of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

"Today's action exposes additional perpetrators responsible for suppressing the Cuban people's calls for freedom and respect for human rights."

Such claims come against worldwide criticism of brutal suppression of protests across the United States against police brutality and human rights abuses against African Americans and other minorities in the country.

Washington imposed sanctions against the Cuban police force and two of its leaders last month after protests in the country.

The US-sponsored protests in Cuba erupted amid the nation’s worst economic crisis, resulting from increasing American economic and political pressures against it and a record surge in coronavirus infections. Protesters took to the streets, angry over shortages of basic goods, with pockets of violent inciters promoting US-sponsored slogans against the government.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has blamed the unrest on Washington, which in recent years has tightened its decades-old trade embargo on the island. He said while many protesters were sincere and upset with persisting hardships, some were manipulated by US-orchestrated social media campaigns.

The latest US measure adds the Cuban officials to Treasury's sanctions blacklist, which means any property they have in the United States will be frozen and any transactions using the US financial system will be barred.

President Joe Biden, who had pledged to reconsider his predecessor’s brutal sanctions against Havana during his 2020 election campaign, has warned Havana that more actions are possible.

The US trade embargo, which has been in place against Cuba since 1962, was reinforced under former president Donald Trump.

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