Cuba rejects new US sanctions against its officials

The US government has imposed sanctions on Cuban defense minister Álvaro López Miera and the Special National Brigade (SNB) under the Global Magnitsky Act, alleging “abuses against protesters”

July 24, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez rejected the new sanctions imposed by the United States government against Cuban officials, under the Global Magnitsky Act, on July 22. Photo: Bruno Rodríguez/Twitter

Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez, on July 22, rejected the new sanctions imposed by the United States government against defense minister Álvaro López Miera and the Special National Brigade (SNB), a special forces unit of the interior ministry, under the Global Magnitsky Act. The said law, passed in 2012, allows the US government to sanction and persecute foreigners they accuse of corruption and human rights violations.

In a tweet, Rodríguez rejected the coercive measures and pointed out the acts of police brutality and repression carried out by the US government during the last year. “I reject unfounded and slanderous sanctions by the US government against Álvaro López Miera and the Special National Brigade. The US government should apply the Global Magnitsky Act to itself for the acts of daily repression and police brutality that cost 1,021 lives in 2020,” he wrote.

The US Treasury Department announced the new unilateral coercive measures against Cuban officials alleging “abuses against protesters,” after the small-scale protests that took place on July 11. The department said that its Office of Foreign Assets Control froze all the assets of minister Lopez Miera and the SNB, as well as blocked US citizens, residents or entities from sending or receiving payments to and from them.

The US Treasury Secretary Janet Louise Yellen said her department “will continue to apply its sanctions related to Cuba, including those imposed today, to support the Cuban people in their quest for democracy and relief from the Cuban regime.” However, she avoided speaking of the impacts of the US blockade on Cuba, the main obstacle to the development of the Caribbean country and a fundamental cause of the shortage of food and medicines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the US president Joe Biden, in a statement, said that this announcement is “just the beginning” and that “the United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people.”

In response, in another tweet, Rodríguez stressed that “if the US government were concerned about the well-being of the Cuban people, it would end the blockade with which it tries to suffocate us, the illegal actions of interference in the internal affairs of Cuba, and the disinformation campaigns to justify its aggressive measures with lies.”

Later, in a press conference, Rodríguez reiterated that the US does not have the moral authority to reproach Cuba on human rights. He rejected the claims of the US President and called on any authority of the US government to present evidence on the alleged disappearances after the riots and the alleged imprisoned minors for the violent incidents. He reiterated that the police acted in strict accordance with the law and that the legal guarantees of those detained after the riots were also strictly adhered to.

“The police responded with the minimum of force in the face of vandalism and violence that caused injuries to policemen and Cuban citizens. Most of those arrested have been released, with fines or precautionary measures at home, for which I also strongly reject that there has been a case of torture and I urge that evidence be presented on that,” he said.

The foreign minister reiterated that the US is lying when it speaks of peaceful protesters and avoids talking about the acts of vandalism and the links of the state of Florida with the financing and promotion of violence in Cuba. He stated that “it is an act of interference in the internal affairs and violates International Laws.”

Rodríguez also condemned the extreme manipulation of the mainstream media about the riots and the reality of the country. He accused US television stations CNN Spanish and FOX of “the systematic manipulation of images that deviate from elementary standards of informational essences and truthful journalism.”

He said that “CNN Spanish disrespects the right of Americans and citizens of the world to receive free and truthful information about Cuba. In the same way, the FOX channel also manipulates with high technology even the images and videos of demonstrations in support of the Cuban Revolution to appear as anti-government protests.”

He also rejected the attacks taking place against Cuba with false news and manipulated images of the country on social networks that there was a social outbreak in Cuba on July 11.

Rodríguez said that Cuba is an absolute priority for the administration of Joe Biden, contrary to what the US president had previously stated. He said that the recent destabilization attempt served as an excuse for the US to maintain the blockade measures imposed against the country for almost six decades, including the 243 unilateral measures imposed by the previous Donald Trump administration, aimed at strangling the Cuban economy and overthrowing the socialist government. He reiterated that 55 of these criminal and illegal sanctions were applied amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, various American social movements, such as Answer Coalition, Codepink, the Illuminator and the People’s Forum, projected messages against the US blockade of Cuba on a building located in the Union Square in New York in solidarity with the Cubans citizens government and revolution.

Additionally, as a part of the global “Let Cuba Live” campaign, over 400 former heads of state, politicians, intellectuals, scientists, members of the clergy, artists, musicians and activists from across the globe have written an open letter to President Biden, urging him to lift the 243 unilateral coercive measures. Today, the letter will be published in The New York Times newspaper.