Calling attention to police violence in the United States, the foreign minister added: “It should rather apply unto itself the Magnitsky Global Act for systematic repression & police brutality that took the lives of 1021 persons in 2020.”
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, described the sanctions as among a range of responses Mr. Biden would deploy to help Cubans grappling with government oppression and a growing humanitarian crisis. She said that “addressing this moment was a priority for the administration.”
As vice president during the Obama administration, Mr. Biden oversaw a policy that restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in more than a half-century. But he has taken a tougher stance as president, a position that generally has been greeted warmly by members of Congress — including some Democrats who had been in the awkward position of siding with President Donald J. Trump’s policy of containing Cuba’s communist government.
Cubans have grown increasingly frustrated with their government amid an economic crisis that has included food scarcity, power cuts, skyrocketing inflation and a growing number of Covid-19 deaths. The Cuban government, for its part, has blamed the United States for a trade embargo and, last week, accused American officials of stirring the unrest.
“Our message could not be clearer: The U.S. stands with the people of Cuba and there will be consequences for those with blood on their hands,” Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on Twitter. Mr. Biden “is absolutely right in holding the Cuban regime accountable as it violently tries to squash Cubans’ hopes & dreams.”
The State Department also is considering whether to allow people in the United States to send money to relatives and friends in Cuba though a remittance process that, in past cases, has been exploited by government officials who have seized a cut of the funds. The department’s spokesman, Ned Price, said this week that the Biden administration was examining how to get the money “directly in the hands of the Cuban people.”
Additionally, Mr. Price said, the department may increase the number of American diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, where the Trump administration set the number of staff at the bare minimum. It is not clear when, or if, the Biden administration will move forward on either front.
Ernesto Londoño contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro. Frances Robles also contributed reporting.