U.S. issues sanctions against Central Bank of Venezuela

In a blow to Cuba's efforts to attract foreign investment the Trump administration is opening the door for lawsuits against foreign firms operating on properties that Cuba seized from Americans after the 1959 revolution

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All these actions, which further tighten the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington against Cuba for nearly 60 years, complement the decision announced on Wednesday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fully implement Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.

Canada and the European Union hit back Wednesday at the Trump administration's decision to allow lawsuits against foreign companies connected to properties seized from American firms during the Cuban revolution, vowing to protect their businesses.

"Today is a big day", said Rafael UsaTorres, who was a member of Brigade 2506 that worked for the Central Intelligence Agency during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

USA officials left no doubt that the Helms-Burton decision, which takes effect on May 2, is part of the Trump administration's effort to force Cuba to abandon Maduro, something Havana has insisted it will not do.

President Donald Trump is stepping up pressure to isolate embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is holding power with help from other countries, including Cuba, China and Russian Federation.

In a major policy reversal, the Trump administration is allowing US citizens to sue foreign companies and individuals who use property in Cuba confiscated from them decades ago by the communist government of then-Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

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Kimberly Breier, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, said the United States would not issue any exemptions to the new law.

President Trump's hostility toward socialism is informing U.S. foreign policy, particularly in Latin America, where it is driving a belligerent posture toward Venezuela and Cuba. ". We Cubans are not surrendering".

Earlier on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the USA would no longer suspend Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.

There have been years of waivers for a provision in a 1996 domestic law of the USA, known as the Helms-Burton Act, that safeguarded foreign companies from US lawsuits. Cuba has trained Venezuelan security forces to repress civilians and support Maduro, Bolton said, calling Maduro "quite simply a Cuban puppet".

The Trump administration is announcing new limits on the amount of money that families in the United States can send to relatives in Cuba.

"It's fair to say that we all agree on the broader strategy on promoting democracy in Cuba, but there is some disagreement on the tactics to get there", she added.

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When asked if the USA would allow any exemptions under the decision, specifically with regard to U.S. companies doing business in Cuba, State Department official Kimberly Breier said, "There will not be any exemptions".

"The extraterritorial application of the US embargo is illegal and violates global law", said Alberto Navarro, the European Union ambassador to Cuba.

"Following U.S. condemnation of the exchange, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that troops would remain in the country as "for as long as needed" and accused the U.S. of trying to "stage a coup" in the country through the threat of military action".

The expansive legislation includes foreign companies and persons, and plans to remove the waiver have already brought sharp criticism and threats of countermeasures from the European Union and Canada, which have extensive investments in Cuba. But since 1996, successive USA presidents have exercised the authority to suspend the lawsuits provisions.

Under Title III, any United States national "who owns the claim to. property" confiscated by the Cuban government after January 1, 1959, has the power to sue in federal court.

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