Trump ramps up pressure on Cuba in Latin America offensive

Miami: President Donald Trump on Wednesday ramped up pressure on Cuba with new restrictions on US travel and remittances and a green light to lawsuits over seized property as he vowed to rid Latin America of leftists.
Defying European warnings on the long-festering property issue, Trump rolled back much of previous president Barack Obama’s bid to reconcile with Cuba and also imposed fresh sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua, the two other hard-left nations in Latin America.
John Bolton, Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, said the measures were meant to “reverse the consequences of disastrous Obama-era policies and finally end the glamorization of socialism and communism.”
“We’re standing with the freedom-loving patriots of this region,” Bolton said in Miami as he addressed veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the failed CIA-backed 1961 bid by exiles to topple the Cuban regime.
Bolton said the United States would bar Americans from travelling to Cuba except to visit family, reversing the loosening under Obama that had started to open the cash-strapped island to US tourism.
Bolton also announced restrictions under which no individual can remit more than $1,000 per quarter to Cuba, pledging: “These new measures will help steer American dollars away from the Cuban regime.”
The hard-hitting speech came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would forge ahead with a long-delayed law that allows Cuban Americans to take businesses and the Havana government itself to court over properties seized after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.
Passed by Congress in 1996 with support from Cuban-American hardliners, the provision of the Helms-Burton Act will finally go into effect on May 2 after being systematically suspended every six months by successive presidents.
“Those doing business in Cuba should fully investigate whether they are connected to property stolen in service of a failed communist experiment,” Pompeo told reporters in Washington.
“I encourage our friends and allies alike to follow our lead and stand with the Cuban people,” he said. But the European Union and Canada, whose vigorous protests helped block the Helms-Burton Act from coming into force two decades ago, swiftly condemned the move. — AFP