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US issues travel ban on Cuba's Castro over support for Venezuela's Maduro

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)
This file photo by AFP shows Cuba's former president and the First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party Raul Castro.

Washington has imposed US travel sanctions on Cuba’s former president, and current Communist Party leader Raul Castro and his family members over his support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

“Castro is responsible for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation, and repression,” said hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Trump administration has made it clear that its dogmatic policy towards Havana is aimed at forcing the small Caribbean nation to abandon its support for Maduro.

Washington, however, has stopped short of severing diplomatic ties with Havana, which was restored by the previous US administration in 2015 after more than five decades of hostility.

The largely symbolic measure against Castro, the younger brother of Cuba’s highly-revered late leader Fidel Castro, is part of a persisting anti-Havana political campaign by US President Donald Trump.  

“Castro is complicit in undermining Venezuela’s democracy and triggering the hemisphere’s largest humanitarian crisis,” Pompeo further claimed.

The top US diplomat also accused Castro of overseeing “a system that arbitrarily detains thousands of Cubans and currently holds more than 100 political prisoners.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza scoffed at Washington’s measure against Castro, describing it as an attempt to humiliate the Cuban leader.

“And neither Raul Castro nor his families even want to come to this country! We are forced to come here because the UN headquarters is in New York, for now,” said Arreaza, referring to a similar US travel ban on Venezuelan officials and citing a Russian offer to host the United Nations in Sochi.

Just last week, the Trump administration ordered the expulsion of two members of Cuba’s delegation to the United Nations.

Maduro on Thursday accused Trump of seeking regime change in Venezuela as a way to divert attention from growing calls for his own impeachment.

The Venezuelan leader returned from an official visit to Moscow, where he held talks with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.

Maduro said images of Trump’s “disgusting face” as he spoke to the “lapdogs of US imperialism” is an embarrassment that reflects the US president’s “fatal obsession” with ousting him.

He was referring to a meeting Trump held at the UN General Assembly in New York earlier this week with Latin American leaders to discuss Venezuela. 

In its persistent attempt to undermine and topple Maduro’s administration, Washington has recognized Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as the country’s president.

Earlier this week, the United States celebrated an agreement reached by 16 US-backed Latin American nations to slap sanctions on senior Maduro officials.

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