AP source: Biden looks to increase staffing of Cuba embassy


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday ordered the State Department to create a working group to review U.S. remittance policy to ensure that money that Cuban Americans send home makes it directly into the hands of their families without the regime taking a cut.

He also ordered a review of the viability of increasing staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The White House is hopeful that a boost in staffing could help it better facilitate civil society engagement following one of the communist island’s biggest antigovernment demonstrations in recent memory.

The actions were detailed by a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Biden administration hadn’t yet publicly announced the effort.

It comes a little more than a week after thousands of Cubans took to the streets of Havana and other cities across the island to protest food shortages and high prices during the coronavirus crisis. It’s a level of frustration not seen in Cuba in more than 60 years.

Biden is also calling for the administration to work with Congress to identify options to make the internet more accessible on the island. The regime moved to quickly cut off internet access to stop images of the protests from being broadcast to the world.

The administration will also look to work with international organizations to increase humanitarian assistance, while the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control will explore sanctioning Cuban officials who committed human rights violations against peaceful protesters in Cuba, the official said.

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