US won’t suffocate, stop us – Cuba

CUBAN President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez says new US sanctions will not intimidate or suffocate the communist island.

On Tuesday, the US departments of Treasury and Commerce added sanctions announced on April 17, and the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the prohibition of “people to people” cultural and educational trips, plus other restrictions on travel and transportation services, remittances, banking, commerce, and telecommunications.

Reacting to the move via Twitter, President Díaz-Canel noted that the US government of Donald Trump was keeping its “perverse efforts to crush Cuba” with new measures intensifying the blockade which violates international law.

“We strongly condemn this policy. They won’t be able to stop us,” said President Díaz-Canel. “Cuba will not be intimidated or distracted by new threats or restrictions. Work, creativity, effort, and resistance is our answer. They have not been able to suffocate us. They won’t be able to stop us. We will live and we will triumph.”

Foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said differences must be resolved on the basis of dialogue and cooperation, and adhering strictly to international law.

“We strongly denounce these new sanctions,” Rodriguez said in a Tweet. “They intend to strangle the economy and damage Cubans’ standard of living, to wrest political concessions from us. They will fail once again.”

Announcing the ban of American cruise ship travelling to Cuba amid new harsh sanctions against Havana on Tuesday, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross accused former US president Barack Obama of having made too many concessions to communist Cuba.

The changes the Commerce and Treasury departments would implement under the Cuba Sanctions Rules are aimed at reversing the thawing of relations achieved between Havana and Washington in 2014.

“Today [Tuesday], the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) unveiled amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement the President’s foreign policy on Cuba.  These amendments complement changes to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which Commerce is also unveiling today,” reads the statement in part.

Washington says the actions mark a continued commitment towards implementing the National Security Presidential Memorandum signed by President Trump on June 16, 2017 titled “Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba.”

“These policies continue to work to channel economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.  The Treasury changes will take effect on June 5, 2019 when the regulations are published in the Federal Register,” it stated.

Major elements of the changes in the revised regulations include ending ‘Group People-to-People Travel’.

“In accordance with the newly announced changes to non-family travel to Cuba, OFAC is amending the regulations to remove the authorisation for group people-to-people educational travel. OFAC’s regulatory changes include a “grandfathering” provision, which provides that certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorised will continue to be authorised where the traveller had already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to June 4, 2019,” the statement reads.

The other aspect is ending Exports of Passenger Vessels, Recreational Vessels, and Private Aircraft.

“BIS, in coordination with OFAC, is amending its EAR to make passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft ineligible for license exception and to establish a general policy of denial for license applications involving those vessels and aircraft,” stated the Treasury and Commerce departments.

Cuba is the only country in the world where US citizens are not allowed to visit as tourists but certain forms of organised group travel, known as “people-to-people” travel, had been allowed until Tuesday’s announcement.

“Cuba remains communist, and the United States, under the previous administration, made too many concessions to one of our historically most aggressive adversaries,” said Ross. “The Trump Administration recognises the threat Cuba’s government poses in the region, and the Commerce Department is acting to limit commercial activity that provides revenue for the Cuban regime. Holding other countries accountable remains a focus for this Administration and we will remain vigilant.”

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