14ymedio, Havana, 17 April 2019 — The United States government announced restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba on Wednesday, as detailed by national security adviser John Bolton in a speech at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami.
Bolton noted that remittances to Cuba will be limited to “1,000 dollars per person per quarter” and that the US Treasury Department will also reduce “non-family travel” to the island, or, in other words, “veiled tourism.”
Likewise, it announced that five Cuban military companies, including Aerogaviota, will be added to the list of entities that with which “direct financial transactions are prohibited” due to their links with Cuban military personnel and services.
The Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, announced this Wednesday in a press conference that on May 2 Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton law will go into effect, provisions that have been frozen since its approval in 1996, due to opposition from the European bloc.
Washington has warned that no company, whether American or European, will be exempt from its new policy towards Cuba, which allows suits to be brought before US over courts properties expropriated by the Revolution.
“There will be no exceptions,” Assistant Secretary of the State for Latin America and the Caribbean, Kimberly Breier, told a news conference.
“The Cuban regime has exported its oppression to Venezuela for years, and the Cuban military, intelligence and security services keep Maduro in power, which undermines the stability of countries in the Western Hemisphere and represents a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Pompeo.
Participating in the announcement this afternoon in Miami were members of the 2506 Assault Brigade, composed of a group of anti-Castro fighters of the so-called “historical exile”, veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, as well as new members representing the “hardest” wing of the opposition to the Cuban Government from the United States.
The Secretary of State said that with this measure, “after more than 22 years, Americans will have the opportunity for justice.”
The Cuban government has reacted immediately by rejecting the predictable measure in a tweet from Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez.
“I strongly reject the announcement by the Secretary of State Pompeo of activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which is an attack on International Law and the sovereignty of Cuba and third States. Aggressive escalation of the US against Cuba will fail. As at Girón [the Bay of Pigs], we will win,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote, adding hashtags to “Cuba” and the “US”.
This policy change will open the door to lawsuits in the US against companies from all over the world, including Spanish hotel chains such as Meliá, Barceló and Iberostar; as well as the Canadian company Sherritt, dedicated to the mining sector and one of the main foreign investors in the Island.
“Sadly, Cuba’s biggest export these days is not cigars, nor is it rum, it’s oppression,” said Pompeo.
That decision promises to inflame tensions with the European Union, whose High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, warned this month in a letter to Pompeo that the bloc could sue the United States before the World Trade Organization (WTO) if Washington implemented that measure.
The EU already sued the United States before the WTO two decades ago, when the Helms-Burton Act was passed, but it suspended that procedure once the White House agreed to freeze those sections of the Act.
As of yesterday, the European Union warned that it will take the measures that are within its reach to defend its companies, although it waited until the news was official to be more specific.
In a study published in 1996, the US State Department estimated that the activation of Title III would allow between 75,000 and 200,000 lawsuits to be brought before US courts.
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