US imposes visa restrictions for Cuba officials involved in protest suppression News
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US imposes visa restrictions for Cuba officials involved in protest suppression

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced Tuesday that the US Department of State will restrict nine Cuban officials’ visas. The nine officials are Ministries of the Interior and the Revolutionary Armed Forces high-ranking members.

The restrictions follow Cuba’s interference with peaceful demonstrators last month. The nine officials are accused of attempting “to silence the voices of the Cuban people through repression and unjust detentions.” The Cuban officials allegedly targeted activists and journalists through government-sponsored mobs, detaining peaceful protestors and revoking journalists’ credentials.

Blinken asserts that through visa restrictions, the US supports the Cuban people and promotes accountability for Cuban leaders and officials. The Department restricted visas under Presidential Proclamation 5377. This executive decree provides for the suspension of entry into the US by nonimmigrant officers or employees of Cuba’s government.

Following last month’s protests, Cuba revoked five Spanish journalists’ press credentials, then reinstated two of them. The revocation gained international attention, with the International Press Institute condemning the “blatant attempt to restrict independent coverage of events on the island.” Even so, Cuban officials thwarted further protest attempts and prevented protest leaders from leaving their homes. The protest leaders turned to social media to spread their pro-democracy messages.

A few months prior to the recent protest attempt, thousands of Cubans engaged in anti-government protests, expressing dissatisfaction with their government’s stance on economic policies and other issues. Subsequently, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that Cuba’s government “systematically engaged in arbitrary detention, ill-treatment of detainees, and abuse-ridden criminal prosecutions in response to peaceful anti-government protests in July 2021.” According to HRW, most detainees were repeatedly and harshly interrogated, some in the middle of the night.