Friday, March 31, 2023

Trump administration adds Cuban bank to US shortlist | Latin America News

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The Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs rejects this decision as a “punitive measure” aimed at tightening the American blockade against Cuba.

The United States has added a Cuban bank to its list of restricted entities, alleging that the financial institution has ties to the Cuban military and that its profits help finance the country’s “meddling” in Venezuela.

In a statement released Friday, the US State Department said it was adding Banco Financiero International SA. (BFI) to Cuba’s Restricted List, a list of entities that the United States believes have ties to Cuban military, intelligence or security services.

Anyone subject to U.S. jurisdiction is prohibited from engaging in financial transactions with listed institutions.

“The addition of BFI to Cuba’s shortlist contributes to the administration’s goal of preventing the Cuban military from controlling and benefiting from financial transactions that should instead benefit the Cuban people,” said the secretary of ‘Mike Pompeo state in the release.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez dismissed the announcement, tweeting Friday that it was a “punitive measure by the #US State Department to tighten the blockade against #Cuba”.

“The inclusion of Cuban entities in its lists aims to strengthen an economic siege that has failed to destroy the Cuban revolution after 62 years,” Rodriguez wrote.

The move comes after U.S. media reported that President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration was considering the possibility of designating Cuba as a sponsor state of terrorism during its last days in power.

The New York Times said the State Department had come up with a proposal, but it was not clear whether Pompeo would approve it.

US Congressman Gregory Meeks, the new president of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Pompeo warned against the terrorism designation, saying it was intended to “tie the hands” of newly elected US President Joe Biden.

“It would clearly be another coup from President Trump and Pompeo,” Meeks said.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on “potential designations deliberations.”

Biden’s policy change

Biden, due to be inaugurated on January 20, plans to bring Washington closer to normalized relations with Havana, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

This includes easing restrictions on travel, investment and remittances, as well as the cancellation of many sanctions and other regulations imposed by the Trump administration, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the discussions.

Biden was vice president when the United States and Cuba agreed to restore diplomatic relations.

“Today, the United States is changing its relations with the Cuban people,” said then President Barack Obama said in December 2014, when the move was announced.

“We will begin to normalize relations between our two nations. With these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people and to open a new chapter.

Obama later visited Cuba in 2016 – the first such trip by a sitting US leader in nearly 90 years.


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