Cuba rejects ‘arbitrary’ tightening of US sanctions

November 16, 2017
The new measures amount to an 'upsurge' of economic, commercial and financial sanctions.

Cuba has rejected outright new US restrictions that took effect on November 8, describing them as confirming an "upsurge" of the blockade imposed by Washington since 1962.

Cuba's top diplomat for the Americas, Josefina Vidal, said during a press conference on November 7 that the new measures to prevent US trade with and travel to the Caribbean island were "arbitrary."

Vidal said the White House decision – part of President Donald Trump's campaign pledge to overturn rapprochement efforts initiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama – amounted to an “upsurge” of economic, commercial and financial sanctions.

Vidal, who is the general director for the US in the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed that the Cuban government considered the measures "a serious setback in relations between the two countries."

Vidal condemned the modifications to people-to-people exchange regulations as politically motivated.

Earlier in the day, the US State, Commerce and Treasury departments announced the adoption of "coordinated actions" to implement the document signed by Trump on June 16 in Miami, Florida.

The document, which introduced additional obstacles to business between the US and Cuba, banned US citizens from making transactions with more than 180 entities linked to the Caribbean nation’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, along with its security and intelligence services.

Under the new terms, US citizens are now prohibited from conducting certain direct financial transactions with the blacklisted institutions, including more than 100 hotels, marinas and stores.

The document also obliges all independent "non-academic" educational visits to the island to be carried out under the auspices of organisations over which the US has jurisdiction: a clause that had previously been rolled back by Obama.

The move comes a little more than a week after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticised member states and their representatives for condemning the US economic blockade and calling the annual UN General Assembly vote against the measure "political theatre."

Haley ended her speech by directing her comments directly to the Cuban people, saying that her government, though standing alone in its promulgation of the 55-year-old blockade, will express solidarity with all Cubans by voting in favour of maintaining it.

Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez responded to Haley's comments by saying the US has no moral ground to stand on in its condemnation of Cuba due to its “flagrant violation of human rights”.

As examples he cited the arrest and deportation of minors and undocumented immigrants, the killing of African-Americans by US police, the lack of guarantees for education and healthcare, restrictions on union organisation, and the refusal of US companies to sell life-saving medical supplies to healthcare services on the Caribbean island.

[Compiled from TeleSUR English.]

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