Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the tightening of the embargo on Cuba has to deal with its human rights violations. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
March 5 (UPI) — The White House announced that it is tightening its decades-old embargo on Cuba as the Caribbean country has voiced its support for embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a 30-day suspension of Title III of the so-called Libertad Act, which allows Americans to sue companies that use properties confiscated during the Cuban communist revolution of 1959.

The suspension only allows suits to be filed against entities on the Cuba Restricted List, which are under the control of the Cuban military, intelligence and security services, the department said in its announcement.

At the end of the 30-day suspension, which would be April 17, more companies would be open to lawsuits.

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Every administration since the Helms-Burton Act was made law in 1996 until now has suspended Title III every six months, NPR reported.

“Today, I announce an exception to the 30-day suspension of Title III of the Libertad Act,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet. “We must hold Cuba accountable and make whole U.S. claimants for assets seized by the Cuban government. Doing business with Cuba is not worth trafficking in confiscated property.”

Secretary Pompeo

@SecPompeo

Today I announce an exception to the 30-day suspension of of the Libertad Act. We must hold accountable and make whole U.S. claimants for assets seized by the Cuban government. Doing business with Cuba is not worth trafficking in confiscated property.

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The State Department’s announcement states that the companies included on the Cuba Restricted List are those “directly responsible for the repression of the Cuban people.”

However, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Cuba “strongly rejects” the move as an escalation of U.S. aggression towards the Caribbean nation.

“The State Department decision is a hostile and irresponsible action intended to tighten blockade and suffocate Cuban economy,” he said in a tweet.

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statement on the foreign ministry’s website published Monday states, the U.S. decision to extend the suspension only 30 days imposes new obstacles to Cuba’s economic development, which is part of America’s failing goal to achieve Cuba’s submission in its building of socialism.

“The majority feelings of the peoples of Cuba and the United States in favor of improving relations and establishing a civilized and respectful coexistence shall prevail,” it said.

However, the United States contends that the move is to force Cuba to adhere to human rights.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted that the United States will continue to tighten restrictions on Cuba as long as it is committing human rights violations.

John Bolton

@AmbJohnBolton

Cuba’s role in usurping democracy and fomenting repression in Venezuela is clear. That’s why the U.S. will continue to tighten financial restrictions on Cuba’s military and intel services. The region’s democracies should condemn the Cuba regime.

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“Cuba’s role in usurping democracy and fomenting repression in Venezuela is clear. That’s why the U.S. will continue to tighten financial restriction on Cuba’s military and intel services,” Bolton said.

The restrictions come as Cuba, as well as China and Russia, has voiced support for Venezuelan President Maduro’s claim to the helm of his country, which goes against the United States and some 50 other countries who have backed opposition leader Juan Guaido‘s self-appointed status as the country’s interim president.

Bolton has previously said that part of the problem in Venezuela is that Cuba has some 20,000 to 25,000 security officials there, a claim that Rodriguez vehemently denies.

“A government famous for resorting to lies has in Bolton a high exponent of such practice. He lies when saying that there are 25 thousand Cuban troops in Venezuela,” he said.

Rodriguez added that his country will ensure its economic partners and foreign companies working in Cuba “full guarantees” on foreign investments and joint projects.

“They’ll be supported by Cuban laws, international law and the laws of their respective countries,” he said.

The additional 30-day suspicion will begin March 19 and end April 17.

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