U.S. Sanctions Three Cuban Officials in Response to Violence Against Protesters

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Three Cuban officials who were found to be connected with actions to suppress pro-democratic protests in Cuba were sanctioned today by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The sanctions were announced by the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The three individuals sanctioned are Roberto Legra Sotolongo and Andres Laureano Gonzalez Brito of the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces, and Abelardo Jimenez Gonzalez of the Cuban Ministry of Interior.

It is the fourth round of sanctions since protests erupted in Cuba on July 11, 2021.

“The Treasury Department will continue to hold accountable those who enable the Cuban government to perpetuate human rights abuse,” Andrea M. Gacki, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control said. “Today’s action exposes additional perpetrators responsible for suppressing the Cuban people’s calls for freedom and respect for human rights.”

The sanctions were announced Thursday as Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, traveled to Miami in part to meet with local Cuban American leaders.

"Biden will not develop policy toward Cuba and with the Cuban people without the Cuban-American community,' Mayorkas said in Miami.

The sanctions block property interests, funds, and goods and services which are subject to U.S. jurisdiction to those who are sanctioned.

The three sanctioned individuals are high-ranking Cuban military and government officials.

Legra Sotolongo is the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, and Chief of the Directorate of Operations of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), under MINFAR, the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces, which deployed the Tropas de Prevencion (TDP), a military police unit, in response to the demonstrations. Gonzalez Brito is the Chief of the Central Army, also under MINFAR.

Jimenez Gonzalez is the Chief of the Directorate of Penitentiary Establishments, which is part of the Ministry of the Interior. According to the U.S. Treasury, he is responsible for the treatment and disposition of people imprisoned in Cuba.

Cuban security forces have detained more than 800 people in response to the protests, with many being held in “preventative jail,” and the whereabouts of multiple people is still unknown, according to a press release from the U.S Treasury.

Once in jail, many are prosecuted by Cuban authorities in summary trials, with simplified procedures and often without the chance of hiring a defense lawyer, according to the release.

Dozens of people have already been sentenced to up to a year in prison or correctional work as a result of summary trials. 

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