US urges release of Cubans month after rare protests
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, seen in March 2021 during a visit to Alaska (AFP)

The United States on Wednesday renewed its calls on Cuba to free protesters one month after unprecedented street protests on the communist island.

"As the world witnessed their call for freedom, the Cuban government persists in responding with repression. We remain committed to supporting Cubans seeking a better life," Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter.

State Department spokesman Ned Price estimated that more than 800 people if not more remained detained over the July 11 protests, which broke out across the island amid a deep economic slump worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We join the families who are suffering and scared, Cuba's human rights defenders and those who share our concern around the world in calling for the immediate release of all those detained or missing for merely exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," Price told reporters.

The Treasury and Commerce Departments issued guidance highlighting that the provision of internet services to Cuba does not violate the sweeping US embargo on the island.

President Joe Biden had promised to look for ways to force internet access in Cuba after blocks on social media used to promote the protests.

The Biden administration says it is also looking to step up staffing at the US embassy in Havana and to find ways to let Cuban-Americans send back remittances without the government taking a cut.

Biden has stopped short of returning to the normalization policies of Barack Obama, under whom he served as vice president, that were largely reversed by Biden's predecessor Donald Trump.