U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
Statement by Secretary Michael R. Pompeo
January 15, 2021
Today, the United States is imposing sanctions on the Cuban Ministry of Interior (MININT) and Minister of Interior General Lazaro Alberto Álvarez Casas for their connection to serious human rights abuse under Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
MININT is designated for being responsible for, complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse. As minister of MININT, Álvarez Casas is also designated for being or having been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse.
Specialized units of MININT’s state security branch are responsible for monitoring political activity, and Cuba’s police support these security units by arresting persons of interest to MININT. In September 2019, Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer was held in a MININT-controlled prison in Cuba, where he reported being beaten, abused, and held in isolation. Ferrer received no medical attention while in prison and was not allowed to read or write.
Ferrer’s case is just one example of the systematic and daily abuse that the regime’s Interior Ministry inflicts on the Cuban people. Today, the Cuban regime holds more than 100 political prisoners and Ministry officials have overseen the torture of many of those detainees. Álvarez Casas, in his role as the vice minister of MININT before his promotion to his current position in November 2020, is complicit in harassing and surveilling journalists, dissidents, activists, and members of civil society groups, including most recently the members of the peaceful San Isidro Movement.
The United States supports the Cuban people’s just aspirations for democracy, prosperity, and respect for their human rights, and we are implementing this designation in support of those aspirations. The Castro regime’s repression of fundamental freedoms requires the condemnation and action of all countries that respect human dignity. We call upon other governments and international organizations to demand accountability of the Cuban government for violating and abusing the rights of the Cuban people.