December 3, 2021

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Sanctioning Cuban Officials in Response to Violence against Peaceful Protestors

8 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

In recent weeks, the United States imposed sanctions on Cuban military and security leaders and units in response to the Cuban regime’s violent suppression of peaceful protesters on and after July 11.  Today, we are enacting additional sanctions in connection with this repression.  We take this action pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

We are designating Romárico Vidal Sotomayor García, chief of the Political Directorate of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior (MININT); Pedro Orlando Martínez Fernández, chief of the Political Directorate of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police (PNR); and the Tropas de Prevención (TDP) of the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR).

Sotomayor García’s and Martínez Fernández’s “Political Directorates” are tasked by the Cuban government with maintaining loyalty within the ranks of their organizations to the Cuban Communist Party.  MININT forces, including the PNR, carried out violent repression of peaceful protestors calling for human rights and fundamental freedoms across Cuba.  Indeed, the First Secretary of the Party and President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel called the Party faithful to “combat” against protestors.

The TDP, also known as “Boinas Rojas” or Red Berets, is a unit of MINFAR’s Directorate for Counterintelligence.  During the recent protests, TDP soldiers have been deployed on the streets and have reportedly attacked and beaten protesters, while making violent arrests.

We stand in solidarity with the courageous Cubans who are protesting for human rights and fundamental freedoms, exercising their rights in the face of repeated oppression and abuse from the Cuban regime.  The Cuban people deserve the ability to safely protest against an authoritarian regime and the failed system that has denied them access to basic necessities for decades.

The United States supports the people of Cuba in their brave call for freedom as we identify those who oppress them and attempt to maintain a repressive system. We will continue to take actions to promote accountability for the Cuban government’s human rights abuses.

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