Following the large pro-democracy protests throughout Cuba on July 11, activists planned a second island wide protest on November 15. But the Cuban regime banned the protests and demonstrators were prevented from ever leaving their homes by police and security agents. About 87 people were arrested and 11 are still detained. The group’s most visible leader, play write Yunior Garcia Aguilera, went into exile in Spain.
In the wake of the Cuban regime’s targeting of peaceful demonstrators, the Department of State has imposed visa restrictions on nine Cuban officials implicated in silencing the voices of the Cuban people through repression and unjust detentions. The Department implemented these targeted actions pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 5377, which suspends nonimmigrant entry into the United States of officers and employees of the Cuban government. These nine officials include high-ranking members of the Ministries of the Interior and the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
In the days preceding November 15, the Cuban regime bullied activists with government-sponsored mobs, confined journalists and opposition members to their homes, revoked journalists’ credentials to suppress freedom of the press, and arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens who attempted to peacefully protest. The designated individuals took action to deny Cubans their universal rights to free expression and peaceful assembly, declared Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“These visa restrictions advance our goal of supporting the Cuban people and promoting accountability not only for regime leaders but also for officials who enable the regime’s assaults on democracy and human rights,” said Secretary Blinken in a statement. “The United States continues to use all our diplomatic and economic tools to push for the release of political prisoners and to support the Cuban people’s call for greater freedoms and accountability.”