Washington preparing to increase ‘by any means’ pressure on Cuba

A senior US official in the Trump Administration has told a selected group of journalists on a non-attributable basis that Washington plans to “increase” pressure on the Cuban government in the near future for its role in keeping the Government of President Maduro in Venezuela in power.

The Spanish news agency EFE, McClatchy News, which publishes the Miami Herald and many other publications in the US, and other invited outlets reported that the official did not rule out the possibility of imposing new sanctions on Cuba.

Noting that Venezuelan Government led by Nicolás Maduro remained in power largely with the help of the Cuban Government, the senior official said that the White House planned to “maintain and increase by any means, with economic, diplomatic and political tools” its pressure on “the entities of the Cuban Army and the intelligence services and the corporate entities from which they profit”, EFE reported.

The unnamed official said that John Bolton, the US President’s National Security Adviser, will give details soon on how the US intends to respond to “three countries” that it considers concentrate “anti-democratic movements” in the American continent: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. “He (will explain) how, with economic, diplomatic and political tools, we will give more light to this issue, we will focus more, and we will add pressure to these regimes,” the Spanish news agency reported the official as saying.

In answer to questions from the small group of journalists present, the official said that the US legally has the power to impose economic restrictions on Cuba and said that it “absolutely” had plans to continue “expanding” that authority.

“The issue of Cuban involvement in Venezuela is a fact. It’s not a theory,”  the official said, briefing on condition of anonymity. The official stressed that “there is no leader in the region or diplomat” that does not admit “even in private” that Cuba maintains “the Venezuelan political, intelligence and military apparatus”.

“If we all know this great secret, we think that it is appropriate to begin to shed light on the issue and to begin to hold the Cuban Government accountable for the consequences, the serious humanitarian consequences and the crimes that are taking place in Venezuela.” the source stressed.

“In the same way that we cannot talk about the crisis that takes place in Syria without the involvement of Iran, it is inconceivable that we talk about Venezuela (…) without mentioning the Cuban government,” he insisted, several publications reported.

“The US government will also put more pressure on regional leaders to hold the Cuban government responsible for its role in helping Maduro hold onto power. “The region already knows it” but it now “needs to talk about it” ”, the official said.

In parallel in the last week, senior Cuban officials have become more outspoken about the actions of the Trump administration, noting that since arriving at the White House in January 2017 the US President has strengthened the use of an approach ‘that aims to destroy the Cuban Revolution through an economic blockade (…) and threats (…) including military aggression’.

In a statement published by Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, the Director General of its US Department, Carlos Fernández de Cossío, said that the US government has escalated its hostile rhetoric against Cuba in ways likely to “fabricate pretexts to lead to a climate of greater bilateral tension”. He noted that “far from engaging in dialogue on the basis of respect, as Cuba has been willing to do for cooperation purposes and as it does with other countries”, the US government had resorted “to fraudulent accusations and defamatory campaigns.”

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