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Cuba blasts US ‘criminal’ sanctions on energy sector

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)
Cars line up to get their tanks filled at a gas station in Havana, Cuba, on September 19, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Cuba has censured the United States for its “criminal” sanctions on the island country’s energy sector.

“The government of the United States has begun in recent months to apply criminal non-conventional measures to prevent the provision of fuel to our country from various markets through threats and persecution,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday.

“As a result, we have faced severe difficulties to ensure the supply of fuel required for everyday life in the country, which has forced us to adopt temporary emergency measures,” Rodriguez added.

Cuba has been under an economic blockade by the US since 1962. That embargo was briefly lifted under former US president Barack Obama.

The US State Department has imposed new sanctions on Cuba over the country’s support for the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, preventing Havana from access to fuel, foreign exchange, medicaments, and food.

The interruption in fuel supplies, in particular, has led to noticeable cutbacks in public transportation over the past weeks, causing long lines at stations at peak times. Some service stations have shut down entirely, while others have run out of diesel.

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

Elsewhere in his remarks at the UN General Assembly, Rodriguez condemned the US for barring the country’s former president, Raul Castro, and his family from entering America, saying, “This is an action that is devoid of any practical effect and is aimed at offending Cuba’s dignity and the sentiments of our people.”

On Thursday, hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Castro, the younger brother of Cuba’s highly-revered late leader Fidel Castro, of being “complicit in undermining Venezuela’s democracy,” and imposed US travel sanctions on Castro and his family.

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

Last week, the Trump administration ordered the expulsion of two members of Cuba’s delegation to the UN.

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