In the aftermath of the Cuban government’s violent repression of peaceful protesters who took to the streets in July demanding change and freedom, the Biden-Harris Administration imposed sanctions on the leader of Cuba’s military and on the Ministry of the Interior’s Special National Brigade.
On July 30, the United States announced additional sanctions under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program, which seeks to promote accountability for those who commit serious human rights abuses. The new sanctions target the Cuban National Police, known as the PNR, and its leaders, Director Oscar Callejas Valcarcel and Deputy Director Eddy Sierra Arias. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, “The PNR, under the leadership of Callejas Valcarcel and Sierra Arias has attacked and beaten peaceful protesters.”
The U.S. Treasury Department noted that among the protesters confronted by the PNR were members of the Movement of July 11 Mothers, a group founded to organize families of the imprisoned and disappeared. In Camaguey, a Catholic priest was beaten and arrested by the PNR while he was defending young protesters. Several minors who were peacefully demonstrating were also beaten.
As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked, and all transactions by U.S. persons with those designated are prohibited, unless exempt or specifically authorized by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
“We recognize the bravery of the Cuban people and the protesters who stood up to the Cuban government’s police-state and sent a message to the world,” said Secretary of State Blinken.
“We are making it clear that anyone who supplies Cuba’s brutal police force, the Special National Brigade, the Interior Ministry, or any other Cuban individuals or entities designated under the Global Magnitsky program may face sanctions risk of their own.”
Speaking at a meeting with Cuban American leaders on the day the new sanctions were announced, President Biden called the situation in Cuba “intolerable.” Asked whether more sanctions may be coming, the President said, “There will be more, unless there’s some drastic change in Cuba.”