Visa restrictions will be imposed against 28 Cuban officials for their role in the crackdown on protesters in 2021, State Department says.

People attend a cultural-political event on the seaside Malecon Avenue with thousands of people in a show of support for the Cuban revolution six days after the uprising of anti-government protesters across the island, in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 17, 2021.
People attend a cultural-political event on the seaside Malecon Avenue with thousands of people in a show of support for the Cuban revolution six days after the uprising of anti-government protesters across the island, in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 17, 2021. (AP)

The US State Department has announced visa restrictions against 28 Cuban officials, who it said were implicated in a crackdown on largely peaceful protests in Cuba nearly one year ago.

In Saturday's statement, the department said the restrictions would apply to high-ranking members of the Cuban Communist Party and officials who work in the country's state communications and media sectors.

Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez blasted the US measures and policy toward Cuba on social media shortly after the announcement, saying they violated international law.

"In view of failed attempt to provoke popular uprising in Cuba in 2021, the US government and its Secretary of State are seeking to discredit people's victory over imperialist aggression," Rodriguez said.

Cuba has said the US Cold War-era economic embargo, combined with alleged efforts to foment protests on the island, are aimed at toppling the communist-run government.

Authorities on the Caribbean island sentenced hundreds to jail time on charges from public disorder to sedition since the protests last July 11, the largest anti-government protests in decades. Other dissidents have fled the island to exile.

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'Systematically' violation of human rights

The State Department accused the Cuban officials facing new visa restrictions of setting the policies it said led to violent and unjust detentions, sham trials and decades-long prison sentences following the widespread rallies.

Human Rights Watch said this week that the government had "systematically" violated the rights of those who protested to deter future demonstrations. Several such groups have called on the governments of other Latin American and European nations to more closely scrutinise the aftermath of last year's protests.

The State Department said on Saturday the Cuban government also employed "internet throttling" to prevent people in Cuba from communicating with each other and block communications with the outside world.

"State media officials continue to engage in a campaign against jailed July 11, 2021, protesters and their family members who speak publicly about their loved ones' cases," the State Department said.

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Source: Reuters