Tue, 21 Sep 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States added additional sanctions on the Cuban police force and its leaders on Friday, following the recent crackdown on protesters in Havana and other cities.

The sanctions, however, are considered largely symbolic.

The U.S. Treasury Department said the sanctions were issued following Cuban authorities' "actions to suppress peaceful, pro-democratic protests in Cuba that began on July 11."

Among those named in the sanctions are two Cuban police officials, along with the Cuban interior ministry's national police force, the department said.

Meanwhile, meeting with Cuban-Americans leaders on Friday, President Joe Biden, commenting on the sanctions, said, "There will be more, unless there's some drastic change in Cuba, which I don't anticipate."

Cuban-Americans are the most outspoken group in opposing the communist government in Cuba and is an important voting block in Florida.

"The United States is taking concerted action to bolster the cause of the Cuban people," said Biden.

Biden also said he has asked the Treasury and State departments how to transfer remittance payments from Americans to Cubans without the Cuban government profiting.

Biden noted that he is developing a plan to try to provide wireless communications to Cubans and enlarge the U.S. embassy staff in Cuba.

Thousands of Cubans marched in July to protest shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties, and the authorities' handling of the pandemic.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has said the unrest was sponsored by the United States, which has tightened its decades-old trade embargo in recent years.

While Florida's 1.5 million Cuban-Americans primarily supported Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, the Democratic Party is working to win back Florida voters.

"I think if Biden has a successful Cuban policy that is able to put the regime on the defensive and provide concrete support to Cubans, that will benefit him with voters in Florida," said John Suarez, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba, as quoted by Reuters. "If the regime collapses on his watch, that could be a game changer."

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