The White House on Friday announced a new round of sanctions against top Cuban officials and forces after the communist regime violently cracked down mass protests in July.
The move, confirmed by the Department of Treasury, is the second time in recent days the administration has moved to penalize the Cuban Communist Party.
Romarico Vidal Sotomayor Garcia and Pedro Orlando Martinez Fernandez and the Tropas de Prevencion of the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces will now face sanctions, said the Treasury Department.
“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, in a statement.
In July, President Joe Biden and the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the Cuban police force and two leaders, among others. Such sanctions freeze any assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prevent U.S. travel for the officials, although it seems unlikely the sanctions would greatly impact any officials in Cuba, which has long been subject to an embargo.
“The Treasury Department will continue to designate those who enable the Cuban government to perpetuate human rights abuses against peaceful demonstrators,” added the Treasury Department.
Previously, the administration slapped Magnitsky Act sanctions against Álvaro López Miera, minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, as well as a special forces group and Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police and its two top officials, Oscar Callejas Valcarce and Eddy Sierra Arias.
“I want the Cuban Americans to know that we—all around this table and myself included—see your pain, we hear your voices, and we hear the cries of freedom coming from the island,” Biden said in July after meeting with several Cuban-American leaders. “We’re going to continue to add sanctions on individuals that carry out the regime’s abuses.”
The issue could prove to be pivotal during the 2022 and 2024 elections as many Cuban-Americans live in Florida and have a longstanding disdain for the Cuban regime and communism. During the 2020 campaign, Republicans portrayed Democrats as soft on communist regimes around the world while accusing some left-wing members of the party of embracing Marxism.
“Florida has a very heterogenous Latino population but one of the things that hold them in common … is a lot of them are fleeing left-wing governments,” Dario Moreno, a political science professor at Florida International University, told CNN last month. Republicans, he said, “cultivated that concern [about Cuba] in South Florida, not only with Cubans but with Colombians and Venezuelans and Nicaraguans.” Nicaragua and Venezuela are both controlled by socialist governments.