As U.S. diplomats were turned away from meeting with the families of jailed Cuban protesters, a Cuban-Canadian rights group on Monday called for the Canadian government to issue sanctions against Cuba for the government’s role in pushing down dissent during a series of protests in July 2021.

U.S. officials were in Havana to speak about migration issues with the government and were planning to meet with the families of jailed Cuban protesters when at least six of the family members were turned away by Cuban police, according to CNN.

Many of the protesters who were arrested were participating in relatively peaceful demonstrations that were broken up by local police. Hundreds of those arrested have already been given lengthy sentences for their roles in the protest, which the Cuban government has claimed was orchestrated by the United States government.

“We condemn the Cuban government’s detention of family members of imprisoned #11J protesters who were scheduled to meet with American officials today in Havana,” Assistant Secretary of State Brian A. Nichols said. “Preventing parents from talking about their jailed children is unjust and inhumane.”

Meanwhile, Cuban-Canadian human rights group Democratic Spaces, led by lawyer Michael Lima, officially requested the Canadian government on Monday to issue sanctions against Cuban officials for their role in repressing free protest in the country, The Globe and Mail reported.

At the time of the protests in July 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had criticized the treatment of protesters in the country as a “violent crackdown” by the “Cuban regime,” but ultimately his government did not issue sanctions as a response.

Many Cubans in Canada have pointed to the nation's human rights record and other organizations like the Human Rights Watch called “brutal, systematic repression” as a reason for sanctions against the country, and are pushing for them to be applied to ten Cuban officials, including Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Canada has yet to offer any explanations on why sanctions have not been imposed on the country.

Cuba Sanctions in the West Rep. Pic
Representation image. Ricardo IV Tamayo/Unsplash.

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