US bans eight Cuban officials over roles in July crackdown

The State Department announced visa restrictions on Thursday against eight Cuban officials for their roles in the crackdown against protesters who took part in July demonstrations.

Due to harsh and unjust sentences handed down to peaceful protesters, the Department of State today took steps to impose visa restrictions on eight Cuban officials implicated in attempts to silence the voices of the Cuban people through repression, unjust detentions, and harsh prison sentences,” the department stated, not naming the officials. 

On July 11, thousands of Cubans took to the streets to protest the communist regime over economic turmoil in the country, as well as its response to the pandemic and food shortages.

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Government authorities “systematically” abused the demonstrators, according to Human Rights Watch, and shut down another round of protests that were set to take place in November. 

The State Department said there were still around 600 July protesters in prison, “some with worsening health conditions and no access to proper food, medicine, or calls to their loved ones.”

“These visa restrictions reinforce the U.S. commitment to supporting the Cuban people and promoting accountability for Cuban officials who enable the regime’s affront to democracy and human rights,” the department added. 

Cuba has previously blamed the U.S. for the unrest in its country, saying the U.S. has coordinated anti-government protests in an attempt to destabilize the island nation.