Friday, August 13, The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned two Cuban interior ministry officials and a military unit, as hundreds remain detained following protests last month on the island.
In response to the Cuban regime brutally cracking down dissidents, and adopting long-arm measures to “curb the flow of information”, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Romarico Vidal Sotomayor Garcia (Sotomayor), chief of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior (MININT) political directorate, and Pedro Orlando Martinez Fernandez (Martinez), who leads the political directorate of Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR). Sotomayor and Martinez have been instrumental in deploying security personnel to suppress peaceful demonstrators. The MININT, on the other hand, was previously designated, for being implicit in “serious human rights abuse”, pursuant to the Executive Order of 13818 on Jan 15, 2021.
All property and interests of the designated individuals will continue to be blocked.
While the comprehensive U.S. embargo on Cuba prevails, the sanctions followed the release of a fact sheet that elaborated exemptions to the embargo, in assistance of the Cuban people’s “right to seek, receive and impart information through safe and secure access to the internet” last week. OFAC and BIS License Exemptions to the embargo allow the provision, export and reexport of telecom devices, mobile phones, receivers, in-country servicing of internet provides, online distance learning and educational training, consumer communications devices and information materials in support of the Cuban people.
The boom in internet use was a factor that powered the protests and the government had shut down access and restricted messaging platforms to curb dissident voices.