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U.S. sanctions more Cuban officials; Mayorkas meets with Cuban Americans

The Homeland Security secretary also met with the Haitian American community to address the response to the Haitian earthquake.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks in Brownsville, Texas, on Aug. 12, 2021.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks in Brownsville, Texas, on Aug. 12.Go Nakamura / Reuters file

MIAMI — The U.S. sanctioned more Cuban officials involved in the crackdown on anti-government protesters in Cuba last month after a meeting Thursday with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Cuban Americans in Miami.

Two Cuban people with the Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces and one with the Cuban Interior Ministry were sanctioned, the Treasury Department announced.

The meeting between Mayorkas and over a dozen Cuban Americans was closed to the media.

The group Mayorkas met with “was incredibly diverse,” said Felice Gorordo, CEO of the technology company eMerge Americas, who attended the meeting. “There were folks who don’t necessarily agree on tactics when it comes to Cuba policy but are firmly united in a common goal to support our brothers and sisters on the island.”

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican, and Cuban activist Rosa María Payá were also in attendance.

President Joe Biden met with Cuban Americans last month at the White House and drew some criticism for not including a more diverse ideological group.

After the protests in Cuba, Florida Democrats urged Biden to address Cuban Americans in Miami, saying it was a unique opportunity to address their concerns.

Cuba’s historic popular uprising July 11 led to a wave of arrests by the government. Hundreds of people are still detained, and many have received summary trials. Cuba also faces one of the worst outbreaks of Covid-19 in the world amid shortages in medicine and a rundown health care system.

Biden has previously sanctioned Cuban officials, as well as the Cuban National Revolutionary Police and an elite brigade of government forces. He has also kept Cuba on the list of countries that aren’t cooperating fully with U.S. efforts to fight terrorism.

Mayorkas met with members of Miami’s large Haitian American community Thursday to discuss the U.S.’s response to Saturday’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

Tension has grown in Haiti over the slow pace at which aid is reaching victims after the earthquake, which killed over 2,000 people. In the U.S., some in the Haitian community are asking the administration to extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitians affected by the earthquake.

Search-and-rescue operations in Haiti were complicated because of Tropical Storm Grace. The country was already dealing with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last month, as well as the coronavirus pandemic and worsening violence.

The National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, Juan Gonzalez, also met with Colombian Americans and Venezuelan Americans in Miami.

“The Colombian diaspora community is one of the largest communities in Florida,” said Evelyn Pérez-Verdía, a Colombian American and a Democratic adviser on Latino issues. “It means so much to us for the administration to come down and listen to the needs we see in our communities.”

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