The U.S. Department of the Treasury reported that its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Wednesday had put the Central Bank of Venezuela and its director Iliana Josefa Ruzza Teran on its blacklist by ratcheting up sanctions.
On the same day, OFAC sanctioned Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s son Laureano Ortega Murillo and Vice President Rosario Murillo along with Nicaraguan bank Banco Corporativo SA.
The property and interests of individuals and entities falling under the jurisdiction of the United States will be blocked, and US citizens were, by and large, banned from partaking in any form of transaction with them.
Furthermore, five Cuban military-owned entities have been added to the US sanctions blacklist. In a parallel move, the US government announced a new cap on the amount of money sent to Cuba, banning dollar transactions through third-party financial institutions, and implementing further regulatory changes to restrict non-family travel to Cuba, according to the White House.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday confirmed that Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act will no longer be suspended by the Trump administration on May 2, thereby facilitating US to bring lawsuits in federal court against foreign firms operating on the property in Cuba confiscated from US nationals.
The LIBERTAD Act, also called the Helms-Burton Act, is a US federal law that came into effect in 1996 with the objective of bolstering the US embargo against Cuba.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez sharply reacted by tweeting that the US move “is an attack against International Law and the sovereignty of Cuba & third states,” emphasizing that aggressive escalation of the United States against Cuba will fail.
The European Union was prompt in issuing a statement that “reiterates its strong opposition to the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures that are contrary to international law.”
During talks with a Cuban exile group in Miami on the 58th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion, US National Security Advisor John Bolton affirmed that these new penalties should serve as a firm admonishment to external actors, such as Russia, to steer clear from deploying military assets to Venezuela to support President Nicholas Maduro’s government.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated that the Russian troops’ presence in Venezuela aligns with their bilateral agreement on military-technical cooperation.
Moscow has issued repeated warnings against Washington to back off and not intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs, urging to hold dialog for attaining solutions.
The United States has adopted a coercive strategy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation targeting the Venezuelan government for supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido. The Trump administration publicly recognized Guaido as the country’s “interim president” on Jan. 23, days after Maduro’s inauguration for a second term in office.
As knee-jerk reaction to Washington’s support for Guaido, Maduro declared he was axing “diplomatic and political” ties with the United States.
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