The United States will take measures after the massive protests in Cuba: it analyzes re-allowing the sending of remittances and expanding its diplomatic presence.
Ned Price, the spokesman for the State Department, indicated that the Government would create a working group "to identify the most effective ways to get remittances into the hands of the Cuban people."
Amid the growing protests in Cuba, the United States government is evaluating increasing the staff of its embassy on the island and reviewing the remittance policy to support the Cuban people in their "legitimate aspirations" for democracy, Ned Price announced Tuesday, spokesman for the State Department.
"We are reviewing our plans to increase the staffing of our embassy in Havana to facilitate consular activities," he said at a press conference. And I also say: We will set up a remittance working group to identify the most effective ways to get remittances directly into the hands of the Cuban people.
"If we are going to do everything possible to support the aspirations of the Cuban people, we need to have a presence on the ground," he added, noting that the objective is to facilitate consular procedures but also to improve diplomatic activity and engagement with civil society.
In November last year, former President Donald Trump banned the sending of remittances to Cuba, a measure with which the United States rapidly increased the economic strangulation on the island and that Biden has maintained during his first six months in power.
Likewise, Price commented that the United States is working with the private sector and Congress to make the Internet more affordable for the Cuban people. In that sense, he asked the Castro regime to restore full access to the Internet and telecommunications, which have been blocked during the demonstrations.
US lawmakers said Tuesday at a congressional hearing the people of Cuba "are fed up." The recent protests in that country signal the "beginning" of a change that may lead to the end of the dictatorship.
At a hearing in the lower house's Western Hemisphere Subcommittee on Civil Security, Migration and International Economic Policy, the two activists disagreed on lifting US sanctions against Cuban officials.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the committee, legislator Albio Sires, highlighted that "thousands of Cubans" have "taken to the streets demanding freedom and democracy" in the protests that began on July 11. "What we've seen is no less than the beginning," said Sires, a Democrat from New Jersey.
The people who have joined the protests have put their lives on the line, and we must not forget how powerful this is," added Sires. The latter, at 11 years old, emigrated from Cuba with his family.
For his part, Rep. Mark Green, a Republican from Tennessee, said that "Cubans are disgusted and tired of oppression, and they have taken to the streets demanding the end of communism."
He further said that anti-government sentiment has increased in the country and the demonstrations show the awareness of civil society. "A new generation is emerging that wants to live in freedom. You see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the Cuban people have never been so close to it. "
Sires and Green affirmed that the Cuban dictatorship uses technology provided by the Chinese regime to interfere or impede communications and citizens' access to the Internet and social networks.
José Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said at the hearing that since July 11, "thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets throughout the country and the government reacted with brutal repression."
He added that human rights groups had reported that about 500 people had been detained. "The reports mention police beatings, multiple arrests of activists, many people held incommunicado and others whose whereabouts are unknown."
"Cuba is changing (...) Therefore, the Government of (President Joe) Biden should take steps to abandon the embargo and the isolation policy that has not produced improvements in the Cuban situation," said Vivanco.
The unilateral embargo that the United States has maintained against Cuba since 1960 "has given the Cuban regime an excuse for its mistakes and abuses, and has earned it international sympathy."
In disagreement was the director of Cuba Decide, Rosa María Payá, who asked that the US government not reverse the heavy-handed policy against the island. "The lifting of (US) sanctions would be a mistake (...) Instead, the United States should take action to break the control that the regime has over communications."
"The United States should invite the European Union and the Organization of American States to take similar measures and should use all the tools to face a threat posed by the regime," said the activist.
He added that the Cuban government should be excluded from this year's US summit and that all options under international law should be considered.