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US expands list of Cuban companies under sanctions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The "Empress of the Seas" was the last cruise of a US company to touch the Cuban port Havana, on June 5, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The US State Department  has expanded the list of Cuban companies under sanctions for their alleged links to Cuban military and security forces.

“The State Department remains determined to ensure that US funds do not go directly to the security apparatus of the Cuban State,” it said in a statement quoted by media on Friday.

The four Cuban companies added to the State Department’s “blacklist” included Palacio Cueto hotels, located in Old Havana, the Cayo Guillermo Kempinski Resort, in the Jardines del Rey tourist destination in the north of Ciego de Avila province, the publishing house Verde Olivo, belonging to the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and Captain San Luis publishers, belonging to the Ministry of Interior”, according to local sources.

In the statement, the State Department claimed the four sanctioned companies had benefited the military, intelligence and security forces at the expense of the people.

“They disproportionately benefit the military, intelligence and security forces at the expense of the people and the private sector of Cuba,” it said.

The statement also accused Cuban security forces of violating human rights and exporting "repression" to Venezuela by supporting its government.

“The security apparatus of the Cuban State not only violates the Human Rights of its people, but also exports repression to Venezuela by supporting the corrupt regime of (Nicolas) Maduro,” the State Department claimed.

The fresh sanctions coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

“Sixty years after (Fidel) Castro promised to improve the life of the Cuban people, the Revolution continues to fail its people by limiting the economy’s potential through mismanagement and oppressing brave Cubans who continue to struggle for their freedom,” it said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a press conference in Washington, DC, June 20, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

An unspecified number of Cuban officials were also included on the “blacklist”, which has been updated four times in the past two years.

The US, which has kept a commercial embargo on Cuba since 1962, stepped up its sanctions against Cuba with the advent of the Trump administration's anti-democratic foreign policy in 2017.

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