U.S. to Sanction Cuban Officials Behind Crackdown on Protesters

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Washington will apply “hard-hitting sanctions” on Cuban officials responsible for cracking down on demonstrations that rattled the communist island earlier this month, a U.S. State Department official said Wednesday.

In a series of tweets, Julie Chung, the acting assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, said President Joseph Biden’s administration is “actively pursuing measures that will support the Cuban people and hold the Cuban regime accountable.”

She didn’t spell out what kind of sanctions might be levied against the leadership of the tightly-controlled island.

The U.S. also wants to boost staffing at its embassy in Havana and expedite humanitarian and medical exports to Cuba. In 2020 U.S. companies exported $176 million worth of goods to the island, including food and medicine, Chung said.

In addition, she said the US. government has set up a “remittance working group” that will focus on how money can be transferred directly to Cubans without falling “into the hands of the oppressors.”

Cuba saw its biggest demonstration in decades on July 11, when thousands took to the streets to demand food and liberty. Human rights groups say anywhere from 500 to 600 people have been detained in an ongoing crackdown.

Havana has blamed a long-standing U.S. trade embargo for the tanking economy and the shortages that are driving the discontent.

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