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WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. Dec. 1, 2021 (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday imposed visa restrictions against nine Cuban officials over their government’s crackdown on demonstrators earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Blinken accused the officials, including high-ranking members of the Ministry of Interior and Revolutionary Armed Forces, of being “implicated in attempts to silence the voices of the Cuban people through repression and unjust detentions”.

“In the days preceding Nov. 15, the Cuban regime bullied activists with government-sponsored mobs, confined journalists and opposition members to their homes, revoked journalists’ credentials to suppress freedom of the press, and arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens who attempted to peacefully protest,” Blinken said in a statement.

“The designated individuals today took action to deny Cubans their rights to free expression and peaceful assembly.”

The planned Nov. 15 rally in favor of greater civil rights fell flat as most dissidents stayed home in the face of pressure by the communist government.

It banned the demonstrations, saying they were part of a destabilization campaign by the United States, which maintains a Cold War-era embargo on Cuba. U.S. officials have denied any such campaign.

Street protests that were held in July were the largest on the Caribbean island for decades. Hundreds of people remain in jail following those rallies, according to human rights groups.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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