14ymedio, Havana, 30 September 2020 — The United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added to its list of sanctioned individuals Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, Raúl Castro’s former minister who is known as the “czar de Gaesa,” the military consortium that controls a large part of the Island’s tourism business.
This Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN”) includes individuals and organizations with whom United States citizens and permanent residents are prohibited from doing business. The measure also freezes all of their assets under US jurisdiction.
In the update of this September 30, the US Department of the Treasury added numerous Syrian companies and the name of General López-Callejas along with other personal information, such as his date of birth, his home address and his passport number.
Born in 1960, López-Callejas has kept a low profile although he is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, executive president of Grupo de Administración Empresarial, SA (Gaesa) and is considered by analysts as the man behind the economic power of the Castro family.
Gaesa controls a wide network of hard currency stores, hotels, real estate investments, construction companies, port services, remittance and currency exchange agencies, as well as customs and e-commerce services. Until September 2019, it had 83 hotels with some 29,000 rooms, the majority managed by 14 international chains with which it has signed administration and marketing agreements.
“The income generated by Gaesa’s economic activities is used to oppress the Cuban people and to finance Cuba’s parasitic and colonial domination of Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “Today’s action demonstrates the United States’ commitment to ending economic practices that disproportionately benefit the Cuban government or its military, intelligence and security agencies at the expense of the Cuban and Venezuelan people.”
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