Trump threatens Cuba with complete embargo

The US President, Donald Trump, has said that if Cuba is unwilling to withdraw its support for the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the US will impose a “very hard embargo”. He appeared also to suggest that if Cuba were to break with Venezuela, the US would consider improving relations.

Speaking on Fox Business on 1 May, Trump said that a “very hard embargo” awaits Cuba if it continues to support the Maduro Government but, “with the right move, Cuba could do very well, we could make an opening”. The US President also warned in a reference to US allegations that Cuban troops are keeping President Maduro in power, that Washington will harden its position if they remain. He also repeated a threat that he would impose a complete embargo.

The US President’s remarks on Fox followed an attempted uprising in Venezuela on 30 April led by Juan Guaidó, the country’s self-declared President. That day the US President had for the first time said that the US will impose a “full and complete embargo, together with the highest-level sanctions.”  

The same day, the US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, also accused Cuba of having a “direct role in propping up the failed Maduro regime in Venezuela”, and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, alleged that Russia and Cuba had acted in concert to halt the Venezuelan President leaving for Cuba.

In a Tweet President Trump said: “If the Cuban Troops and Militias do not immediately cease their military and other operations with the aim of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a complete embargo will be imposed on the island of Cuba, together with sanctions of the highest level”, he said. He also expressed the hope they would return to Cuba peacefully.

“We are going to apply an embargo and very strong sanctions in Cuba. It depends on what is going to happen there, but they (the Cubans) have a lot to lose because they do not have a booming economy”, the US President added.

In response to threat of a complete embargo, Cuba’s President, Miguel Díaz-Canel posted on Twitter “There is no force, threat or blockade that can take us away from our principles of solidarity, internationalism, Latin Americanism, Bolivarianism and Martí. Latin America is a zone of peace”.  Also responding, the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, accused the United States of outright falsehoods and described Bolton as a “pathological liar who misinforms Trump.”

Cuban officials also repeated that the 20,000 Cubans working in Venezuela were not military personnel, noting that they were undertaking medical, educational and sports programmes.

The New York Times reported on 1 May that the White House is at odds with the US Central Intelligence Agency assessment that Cuba is far less involved in Venezuela and its participation and support for the Maduro Government has been far less important than senior officials in the administration believe.

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