The U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned Cuba’s interior minister Friday for alleged human rights abuses.
“The Cuban regime has a long history of human rights abuse,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to address the dire human rights situation in Cuba and elsewhere around the world.”
The Treasury Department also sanctioned the country’s interior ministry, which it said has specialized units of its security branch dedicated to “monitoring political activity, and Cuba’s police support these security units by arresting persons of interest.”
The U.S. cited the ministry’s 2019 arrest and imprisonment of Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer, who “reported being beaten, tortured and held in isolation.”
The Cuban government did not respond immediately to the sanctions, which freeze any U.S. assets held by Cuba or a Cuban national and generally bar Americans from doing business with them. Anyone who engages in certain transactions with these entities runs the risk of being hit with U.S. sanctions.
The sanctions were imposed five days before Donald Trump leaves office after losing the November 3 presidential election to Joe Biden.
The Trump administration worked throughout its four-year term to reverse President Barack Obama’s historic reconciliation with Cuba. On Monday, the administration again placed Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, potentially complicating Biden’s expected efforts to ease tensions with Cuba.