WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three Cuban individuals pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world. This is the fourth round of sanctions since protests started in Cuba on July 11, 2021. Treasury continues to target persons in connection with actions to suppress peaceful, pro-democratic protests in Cuba. The targets of today’s designations are Roberto Legra Sotolongo (Legra) and Andres Laureano Gonzalez Brito (Gonzalez) of the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR), and Abelardo Jimenez Gonzalez (Jimenez) of the Cuban Ministry of Interior (MININT).
“The Treasury Department will continue to hold accountable those who enable the Cuban government to perpetuate human rights abuse,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Andrea M. Gacki. “Today’s action exposes additional perpetrators responsible for suppressing the Cuban people’s calls for freedom and respect for human rights.”
SANCTIONS ON CUBA
In addition to the sanctions imposed today under the Global Magnitsky program, OFAC continues to enforce the Cuba sanctions program. OFAC administers an economic embargo on Cuba that prohibits persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction from engaging in transactions involving property in which Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest. There are exceptions and licenses for the embargo to ensure that certain categories of activity are allowed, including for humanitarian purposes that directly benefit the Cuban people. In addition, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 515 (CACR), block the property and interests in property of all Cuban nationals (unless unblocked pursuant to 31 C.F.R. 515.505) — regardless of whether they appear on Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List). The Treasury Department will continue to enforce these prohibitions consistent with applicable statutes and regulations.
VIOLENT REPRESSION OF PROTESTORS IN CUBA
Since the beginning of the July 2021 protests in Cuba, the Cuban regime has used security forces to suppress peaceful demonstrators. Legra is the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, and Chief of the Directorate of Operations of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), under MINFAR, which deployed the Tropas de Prevencion (TDP), a military police unit, in response to the demonstrations. OFAC previously designated the TDP pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Alvaro Lopez Miera, Minister of the FAR. Gonzalez is the Chief of the Central Army, also under MINFAR.
Jimenez is the Chief of the Directorate of Penitentiary Establishments, under MININT; in this role, he is responsible for the treatment and disposition of people imprisoned in Cuba. Cuban security forces have detained more than 800 people in response to the protests, with many being held in “preventative jail,” and the whereabouts of multiple people still unknown. Once in jail, many are prosecuted by Cuban authorities in summary trials, with simplified procedures and often without the chance of hiring a defense lawyer. Dozens of people have already been sentenced to up to a year in prison or correctional work as a result of summary trials.
Legra and Gonzalez were designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being foreign persons who are or have been leaders or officials of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, directly or indirectly, serious human rights abuse relating to Legra’s and Gonzalez’s tenures.
Jimenez was designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, MININT, a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13818. MININT was previously designated by OFAC pursuant to E.O. 13818 on January 15, 2021, for being responsible for or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.
All property and interests in property of persons that are blocked pursuant to the CACR continue to be blocked. The CACR prohibits persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction from dealing in property in which Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest, unless authorized or exempt. Additionally, pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 583, all property and interests in property of the persons above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked, and all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt. These prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.