President Biden on Friday vowed to heap new sanctions on Cuba’s Communist leaders unless there’s “drastic change” in the wake of large anti-government protests.
Biden made the threat as he hosted a group of Cuban-Americans at the White House — following weeks of noisy protests on Pennsylvania Ave, including a large and loud overnight protest into the wee hours of Monday.
“There will be more [sanctions] unless there’s some drastic change in Cuba, which I don’t anticipate,” Biden told reporters at the Friday event.
Biden said that Cuba’s repression of protests was “intolerable” and said that new sanctions are likely to target police on the island.
But the broadcast of Biden’s message was limited. The White House did not set up a live video feed for the Friday afternoon event and did not immediately provide reporters with a list of Cuban-Americans who participated.
Biden last week authorized sanctions against Cuban Defense Minister Alvaro Lopez Miera and the Cuban Interior Ministry’s special forces brigade, nicknamed the “Black Berets.”
Former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions against the entire Cuban Interior Ministry, including the brigade, in January, the Treasury Department said. It does not appear that those sanctions were lifted by Biden.
It’s unclear why Biden did not order sanctions against Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who called the protesters “counter-revolutionary mercenaries” and oversaw this month’s crackdown.
Critics have called on the commander-in-chief to do more amid the suppression of protests — and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told The Post last week that Republicans are weighing legislation to force the president’s hand.
Biden previously said the US is investigating whether it’s possible to override an internet blackout imposed by Cuban authorities. The lack of internet access prevents distribution of information on protests.