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U.S. blocks assets of Venezuela's Central Bank in new sanctions

20 April 2019

Pompeo accused the Cuban regime of having "exported its oppression to Venezuela" for years and said the island's "regime, intelligence, and security services keep (Venezuelan leader Nicolas) Maduro in power".

Instead, the policy seems to be blundering the USA into a very ugly military confrontation in Venezuela, while trying to vilify Cuba for having ties to Venezuela that long predate the administration's decision to start demanding regime change in Venezuela.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (feh-deh-REE'-kah moh-gehr-EE'-nee) and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland say the US move "to renege on its longstanding commitment" to avert such legal action "is regrettable".

The major policy shift, which the State Department said could draw hundreds of thousands of legal claims worth tens of billion of dollars, is meant to intensify pressure on Havana at a time Washington is demanding an end to Cuban support for Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro. ". We Cubans are not surrendering". Those claims have an estimated value of $8 billion U.S.: $2 billion in property and $6 billion in interest, she said.

The State Department announced Wednesday it would permit Cuban Americans to sue the foreign power over property they lost during the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

"We are concerned over the continuing actions by the United States toward the countries of the Latin American region".

"The EU and Canada consider the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures contrary to global law", Freeland, her European Union counterpart Federica Mogherini and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a joint statement Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump changed that practice.

He said that the United States would also impose limits on the money that families can send back to the cash-strapped island.

The Trump administration has been adopting a more aggressive stance toward Cuba after former President Barack Obama had been moving toward a thawing of relations with Havana.

A joint EU-Canada statement said the U.S. move was "regrettable" and will have an "important impact on legitimate EU and Canadian economic operators in Cuba."Kim Breier, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said the administration had been in close contact with allies in Europe and elsewhere before the Cuba decision and that a "vast number" of European firms operating there would not have any problems".

The complete lifting of the ban could allow billions of dollars in legal claims to move forward in USA courts and likely antagonize Canada and Europe, whose companies have significant business holdings in Cuba.

Freeland said the government regularly met with the USA officials since January, when the issue first surfaced, to raise concerns about "the possible negative consequences for Canadians - concerns that are long-standing and well known to our US partners". She said there would be no exceptions to the decision, which prompted a stern response from European Union as it has vowed to protect its businesses from lawsuits.

"Trump's policy towards Cuba has a Cold War era vision that obstructs the normal course of relations between the two countries and also affects economic links and people-to-people contacts", Perez, a professor at the University of Havana's Center for Hemispheric and USA studies, told Xinhua.

"The U.S. Department of Justice may not be pleased with the prospect of a potential wave of lawsuits with dubious claims clogging up the already overburdened federal court system", said Mark Entwistle, a business consultant in Cuba who served as Canadian envoy to Havana in the 1990s.

Foreign investment in Cuba increased slightly in recent years, but it remains far below the levels needed to recapitalize the island's dilapidated, often collapsing infrastructure.

U.S. blocks assets of Venezuela's Central Bank in new sanctions