Alvaro Lopez Miera (a Cuban military and political leader) and Brigada Nacional Del Ministerio del Interior (or Interior Ministry Special Brigade) were listed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department as being subject to the most recent sanctions.
Treasury stated in a statement, Lopez Miera had "played an integral part in the repression of continuing protests in Cuba." According to Treasury, the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, which is headed by Lopez Miera and other security services of the Cuban government, have attacked protesters and disappeared more than 100 people in an effort to suppress these protests.
Miguel Diaz-Canel's regime responded quickly and violently to the protests. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, stated that the actions of Cuban authorities and the violent mobs they mobilized "lay bare" the regime's fear and inability to meet its basic needs and aspirations.
Trump's January administration sanctioned the Interior Ministry Special Brigade. This was in addition to the whole ministry and Interior Minister Lazaro Alberto Alvarez Casas, who were both under the Global Magnitsky Act.
"I strongly condemn the mass detentions, sham trials that unjustly sentence to prison those who dare to speak in an attempt to intimidate and threaten Cubans into silence," President Joe Biden stated in a statement. "The Cuban people enjoy the same rights to freedom of expression as other people.
This move follows an earlier announcement by the White House that Biden had instructed his administration to take steps to increase pressure on the communist government after thousands of Cubans marched through Havana and other cities earlier in the month protesting food shortages during the coronavirus epidemic.
Bruno Rodriguez, Cuba's Foreign Minister, immediately took to Twitter and called the sanctions "baseless" and "slanderous". He suggested that Biden use the sanctions against himself for "acts of everyday repression" in the U.S.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control, Treasury Department, was tasked to investigate sanctioning Cuban officials for human rights violations against peaceful protestors in Cuba.
Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary, stated that the Cuban people are demanding the fundamental and universal rights that they have been denied by their government. "The Treasury will continue to enforce its Cuban-related sanctions, including those that were imposed today to support the Cuban people in their search for democracy and relief under the Cuban regime."
Biden also requested that the State Department establish a working group to examine U.S. remittance policies to ensure that the money sent home by Cuban Americans reaches their families directly without any cut from the regime.
Biden also requested a review of whether it would be possible to increase the staff of the U.S Embassy in Havana. After one of the most violent anti-government protests in recent history in Cuba, the White House hopes that an increase in staffing will help it facilitate civil society engagement.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated that "We have made it clear over the past week that addressing the moment was a priority both for the administration as well as for President Biden."