By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 7, 2021: The US has slapped a travel ban on eight Cuban officials as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they have been complicit in the repression of opposition protesters and other dissidents.
Blinken announced visa restrictions on Thursday afternoon in a statement that condemned an ongoing crackdown on participants in demonstrations that began last July and called prison sentences handed down to those involved “harsh and unjust.”
The eight officials were not named, but Blinken said all of them are connected to the “detention, sentencing and imprisonment” of peaceful protesters. The U.S. says about 600 protesters across the communist island remain jailed after the July 11 protests despite appeals for their release.
“The United States took steps to enforce visa restrictions in response to Cuban government attempts to deny Cubans their freedom and rights through continued intimidation tactics, unjust imprisonment, and severe sentences,” Blinken said.
In July, thousands of Cubans took to the street in cities across the island to protest shortages of goods and power blackouts, the largest demonstrations against the Communist administration in recent history. Some called for a change in government.
Cuban authorities have said that the United States was the real force behind the protests and cracked down viciously on protestors and squelching other protests.
The State Department says it implemented the targeted actions pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 5377, which suspends nonimmigrant entry into the United States of officers and employees of the Cuban government.