More Cuban officials sanctioned by US in response to protest crackdown

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The U.S. State Department released a statement Friday detailing additional sanctions levied against Cuban officials in response to the country’s crackdown against peaceful protesters in recent weeks.

"In recent weeks, the United States imposed sanctions on Cuban military and security leaders and units in response to the Cuban regime’s violent suppression of peaceful protesters on and after July 11," the State Department said in a statement. "Today, we are enacting additional sanctions in connection with this repression.  We take this action pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act."

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The State Department said it has targeted Romárico Vidal Sotomayor García, chief of the Political Directorate of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior; Pedro Orlando Martínez Fernández, chief of the Political Directorate of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police; and the Tropas de Prevención of the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Sotomayor Garcia and Martinez Fernandez, according to the State Department, were tasked by the Cuban government with "maintaining loyalty" within the ranks of the Communist Party and allegedly were instrumental in carrying out violent crackdowns against protesters demanding more freedoms from the oppressive regime. 

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"We stand in solidarity with the courageous Cubans who are protesting for human rights and fundamental freedoms, exercising their rights in the face of repeated oppression and abuse from the Cuban regime," the statement added. "The Cuban people deserve the ability to safely protest against an authoritarian regime and the failed system that has denied them access to basic necessities for decades."

Last month, protesters across the island took to the streets demanding changes and economic relief from Cuba’s communist government, resulting in violent crackdowns that ended with hundreds reportedly thrown in jail. 

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Republicans, and some Democrats, have pressured the Biden administration to act in defense of the protesters and sanction Cuba for their response to the protests.

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