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Monday, July 26, 2021

U.S. to Impose Sanctions on Cuban Officials Over Protest Crackdown

The United States intends to impose sanctions on Cuban government officials responsible for the crackdown on protesters in the island nation, the U.S. State Department said on July 21.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said at a press briefing that the Office of Foreign Assets Control is exploring on designating sanctions on Cuban officials “responsible for violence, repression, human rights violations against those peaceful protesters.”

Price did not detail what the potential sanctions might be and what authorities they might use as he was “not in a position” to do so yet.

“But we are certainly looking at ways that we can hold accountable those Cuban regime officials who have been responsible for what we’ve seen,” Price said.

Earlier, Acting Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung said in a series of tweets that the U.S. will “focus on applying hard-hitting sanctions on regime officials for the brutal crackdown” in Cuba.

Last July 11, thousands of Cubans took to the streets in the capital, Havana, and in several other cities to protest against the communist government over COVID-19 measures and the pace of vaccinations and to demand for freedom.

According to human rights groups, one person died and around 500 to 600 people have been detained in the ongoing crackdown.

The protests were the largest seen in Cuba in decades.

The Cuban government blames the U.S. for the protests, citing already-imposed U.S. sanctions.

When asked if there was still room for more U.S. sanctions against Cuba, Price said, “We are confident there is more room.”

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