The Department is publicly designating Julio Cesar Gandarilla Bermejo, Minister of Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (MININT), under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, as carried forward by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, due to his involvement, by command responsibility, in gross violations of human rights in Venezuela. Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign government officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights (GVHR), those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.
The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members. In addition to the public designation of Julio Cesar Gandarilla Bermejo, the Department is also publicly designating his children, Julio Cesar Gandarilla Sarmiento and Alejandro Gandarilla Sarmiento.
In addition to the GVHRs in Venezuela that serve as basis for this designation, Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior is responsible for arbitrarily arresting and detaining thousands of Cuban citizens and unlawfully incarcerating more than 100 political prisoners in Cuba. Ministry officials have overseen the torture of political dissidents, detainees, and prisoners, as well as the murder of some of these individuals by police and security forces. Gandarilla Bermejo is complicit in arbitrarily or unlawfully surveilling these groups, whether they be citizens or visitors.
The United States continues to support the Cuban and Venezuelan people, and the Department implements this designation with that goal in mind. The Castro regime’s repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms in both Cuba and Venezuela necessitates worldwide concern and a louder international call to action. We strongly encourage other governments and international organizations demand accountability of the Cuban government for violating and abusing human rights and fundamental freedoms.