US imposes sanctions on Cuba citing human rights violations

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Jan 16, 2021, 08.55 AM(IST)

Cuban and American flags in Havana Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

In a statement, the US Treasury Department mentioned Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer, saying he had been detained in a prison controlled by the ministry and was reportedly beaten and tortured.

The United States has slapped sanctions on Cuba’s interior ministry and its leaders, accusing them of serious human rights abuses.

In a statement, the US Treasury Department mentioned Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer, saying he had been detained in a prison controlled by the ministry and was reportedly beaten and tortured.

“The United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to address the dire human rights situation in Cuba and elsewhere around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

Washington also blacklisted Cuban Interior Minister Lazaro Alberto Álvarez Casas.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Twitter denounced the Trump administration’s move as “a coercive measure against our country.”

The measures against the ministry and Brigadier Gen. L'zaro Alberto lvarez Casas include freezing any bank accounts they may have in the United States and blocking any business operations with US entities.

The new sanctions, which are largely symbolic, come less than a week before the end of Donald Trump's presidency, which has been characterized by strong hostility toward the Cuban government.

The sanctions will be implemented under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and directed "against the perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and corruption throughout the world," the US government said in a news release.

The statement cited the case of Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer, who was held in a prison controlled by the Interior Ministry. Ferrer reported being beaten, tortured, held in solitary confinement and denied medical attention at the prison.

The island's Ministry of the Interior oversees the internal order in the Caribbean nation and includes police, firefighters, the penitentiary system and border guards. The Cuban government does not recognise the legal status of dissidents, whom it often accuses of being manipulated and financed by American interest groups wanting to discredit the socialist government.

Trump reversed his predecessor Barack Obama’s diplomatic opening to Havana, tightened restrictions on U.S. travel and remittances to Cuba and imposed sanctions on shipments of Venezuelan oil to the Caribbean island.

Trump’s policy was popular among the large Cuban-American population in South Florida, helping him win the state in the November election though he lost the national vote to Joe Biden, who was Obama’s vice president.

Biden, who will take office on January 20, said during the campaign he would promptly reverse Trump policies that he said have harmed Cubans and “done nothing to advance democracy and human rights”.

The Trump administration announced on Monday it was returning Cuba to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that could complicate any efforts by Biden to revive Obama-era detente with Havana.

The administration noted Cuba had hosted Colombia’s peace talks with rebels and said it was harboring guerilla leaders that the Colombian government now wanted returned.

(with inputs)

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