US sanctions more Cuban officials over protest crackdown

Washington (AFP) –


The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on three senior Cuban officials, the latest in a series of actions in response to the crackdown on recent anti-government protesters on the island.

The penalties targeted two top defense ministry officials for their role in suppressing the rare demonstrations in the communist-ruled nation, where hundreds were jailed, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

Washington "will continue to hold accountable those who enable the Cuban government to perpetuate human rights abuse," said Andrea M. Gacki, head of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

"Today's action exposes additional perpetrators responsible for suppressing the Cuban people's calls for freedom and respect for human rights."

After previously slapping sanctions on defense minister Alvaro Lopez Miera and the Cuban police, the latest move hits Roberto Legra Sotolongo and Andres Laureano Gonzalez Brito of the Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces.

They also cover Abelardo Jimenez Gonzalez, who is in charge of prisons at the Interior Ministry.

"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 still unknown," the statement said.

Adding them to Treasury's sanctions blacklist freezes any property they have in the United States and bars any transactions using the US financial system.

President Joe Biden has warned Havana that more actions are possible, and Washington has called for the release of detained protesters, while trying to find ways to ensure internet access for the Cuban people.