Florida Sen. Marco Rubio slammed the Biden administration’s recently announced sanctions against Cuba for being nothing more than a “meaningless” gesture. The sanctions were announced amid Cuba’s ongoing crackdown of its citizens, who have been protesting for freedom over the past few weeks.
Rubio accused Biden of “pandering to the Marxist left” of the Democratic Party that supports both the government of Cuba and its communist policies.
Biden’s sanctions, which were instituted on Thursday by the Treasury Department, were levied under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. They target the Cuban regime’s special forces unit, known as the Black Berets, and defence minister Álvaro López Miera. The sanctions are specific to those entities alone and relate only to their assets held in the United States.
The Daily Mail reported that neither the Black Berets nor Miera actually possess American assets, as Cuba remains under strict embargo by the United States that prohibits trade and the transfer of anything other than food and medicine. The Trump administration had previously sanctioned the entire Cuban Interior Ministry, including the special forces group, in January, before Biden took office.
An expert consulted by the Daily Mail described the sanctions as having little to no significance.
“I actually don’t think they have any significance,” said Jose Gabilondo, a law professor at Florida International University. “I think their goal is to appease part of Joe Biden’s would-be electorate because he did poorly in Florida.”
“There were already a quite complex set of sanctions in place,” Gabilondo added. “It’s kabuki politics.”
Despite the meaninglessness of the sanctions, Biden insists that the sanctions are just the first of several actions the administration will take on Cuba. Further efforts could involve a “working group” on remittances — money sent to Cuba from Cuban expats in the United States — and a “reconsideration” of a State Department proposal to return U.S. diplomats to the embassy in Havana. The embassy was vacated after a number of employees fell ill with “Havana Syndrome,” which is understood to be possibly caused by a high-tech weapon.
“Biden sanctioning an already sanctioned regime official in Cuba is the kind of symbolic but meaningless measure we will continue to see as long as @POTUS is being advised by people who were drinking mojitos in Havana in 2015 to celebrate the Obama policy,” Rubio tweeted Friday. “#CubaLibre,” he added.