US set to announce new sanctions on Cuba over Maduro support

Delivering a speech in support of Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido in Miami last month, US President Donald Trump pointed out that the days of socialism were “numbered” not only in Caracas, but in Nicaragua and Cuba as well.

The Trump administration is about to impose a new batch of sweeping sanctions against the Cuban authorities over their support for the government of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Fox News reported, citing a source familiar with POTUS’ national security team.

The move would reportedly be an application of the Helms-Burton Act – a 1996 law, which includes a provision that, if activated, would allow Cuban-Americans who hold US citizenship to sue foreign corporations and individuals over property seized by the Cuban government.

The so-called Title III provisions of the law have been waived by every president since its creation in 1996, but in January President Trump’s administration decided to suspend its terms for 45 days, rather than the customary six months that his predecessors have routinely invoked.

“This extension will permit us to conduct a careful review of the right to bring action under Title III in light of the national interests of the United States and efforts to expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba. We encourage any person doing business in Cuba to reconsider whether they are trafficking in confiscated property and abetting this dictatorship”, the State Department said in a statement at the time.

In response, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez slammed the Trump administration’s move as “political blackmail” and a “brutal attack against international law”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also accused Cuba of contributing to the escalation of the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela, which was dismissed by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel as “slander” and “arrogance”.

Cuba, along with Russia, Iran, Turkey and many other countries, refused to follow Washington’s suit and recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.

Since the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the United States has been attempting to sabotage the communist government in Havana, having severed diplomatic ties with the island and introduced a trade embargo on it.

In 2014, Barack Obama’s administration announced a decision to normalise relations with Cuba, subsequently lifting some restrictions on bilateral exchanges. However, in June 2017, President Trump reversed the Obama-era policy and imposed new limitations on economy, trade and travel.