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Biden administration sanctions Cuban national police, leaders

President Joe Biden delivers remarks before a meeting with Cuban American leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
President Joe Biden delivers remarks before a meeting with Cuban American leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

July 30 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Friday imposed new sanctions on elements of the Cuban government for its "violent suppression" of recent protests.

The sanctions came amid a series of new policy measures President Joe Biden said his administration was undertaking.

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"Earlier this month, Cubans took to the street in a show of the will of the people of Cuba," Biden said during a State Dining Room meeting with Cuban American leaders.

"The regime responded with violence and repression, mass detentions, sham trials and people disappearing who have spoken out. Cuban Americans are hurting because their loved ones are suffering. And it's, quite frankly, intolerable."

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The anti-government protests, which began earlier in the month, are the largest seen in decades in the communist country, as people took to the streets in the capital of Havana and other locations as Cuba continued to suffer from a deepening economic crisis and the pandemic.

The Treasury Department said the sanctions target the Cuban Revolutionary National Police, known as the PNR, as well as its leaders, Director Oscar Callejas Valcárcel and Deputy Director Eddy Sierra Arias.

"We stand in solidarity with the people of Cuba, and today's designations result in an additional layer of restrictions on the PNR and its leaders," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

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"We are making it clear that anyone who supplies Cuba's brutal police force, the Special National Brigade, the Interior Ministry, or any other Cuban individuals or entities designated under the Global Magnitsky program may face sanctions risk of their own. We will continue to take action to promote accountability for the Cuban government's human rights abuses."

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