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US Treasury sanctions Cuban officials, military unit over violence

US Treasury sanctions Cuban officials, military unit over violence

FILE PHOTO: People walk under a Cuban flag at a commercial area amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Havana, Cuba, August 3, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

WASHINGTON : The US Treasury Department said on Friday (Aug 13) it was imposing sanctions on two Cuban Ministry of Interior officials and a military unit over the Cuban government's crackdown on protesters last month.

The department said it was sanctioning Romarico Vidal Sotomayor Garcia and Pedro Orlando Martinez Fernandez and the Tropas de Prevencion of the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces.

"Today’s action shines a spotlight on additional perpetrators responsible for suppressing the Cuban people’s calls for freedom and respect for human rights," said Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The Cuban Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request to comment.

In July, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on the Cuban police force and two of its leaders.

The protests erupted in July amid Cuba's worst economic crisis since the fall of its old ally, the Soviet Union, and a record surge in coronavirus infections. Thousands took to the streets, angry over shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties, and the authorities' handling of the pandemic.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has blamed the unrest on the United States, which in recent years has tightened its decades-old trade embargo on the island. He has said many protesters were sincere but manipulated by US-orchestrated social media campaigns.

The US Treasury earlier announced sanctions on Cuba's defense minister and an interior ministry special forces unit over allegations of human rights abuses in the crackdown that followed the protests, in which hundreds of activists were detained.

Source: Reuters

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