US cracking down on tourism, remittances and banking in Cuba sanctions push – Bolton

The US is targeting Cuba with additional sanctions, including restricting travel to the island nation, limiting remittances, and sanctioning additional entities, White House national security adviser John Bolton said.

US citizens sending remittances to Cuba will be limited t $1,000 per person per quarter, Bolton said on Wednesday. Non-family travel will be restricted to reduce “veiled tourism” that benefits the Cuban government and military, he added.

“Through the Treasury Department, we will also implement changes to end the use of ‘U-turn transactions,’ which allow the regime to circumvent sanctions and obtain access to hard currency and the US banking system,” Bolton said in a speech to veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, when CIA-backed Cuban exiles tried to overthrow Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government.

"Obama administration sought to normalize relations with a tyrannical dictatorship that targets American citizens, murders and tortures political opponents and tramples upon every freedom known to man," says .

"The Trump administration is proud to announce several further measures we are adopting to reverse the consequences of the disastrous Obama-era policies and finally end the glamorization of socialism and communism," says in Miami speech.

The move comes a day after the White House announced it would stop issuing waivers on implementing the Helms-Burton law, which would penalize anyone in the world who did business with Cuban entities using property seized from US owners following the 1959 Cuban revolution.

“No one will take the fatherland from us, neither by seduction nor by force,” Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

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Treasury has not officially announced the new sanctions, but Bolton said five entities will be added to the Cuban blacklist, including the military-owned airline Aerogaviota.

The US cut diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961, and over the following decades imposed a wide range of sanctions on the island nation, just 90 miles south of Florida. Former president Barack Obama sought to soften the US policy in 2015, leading to the reopening of the US and Cuban embassies and loosening of travel restrictions.

In June 2017, however, Trump rolled back all of Obama’s changes, returning to a hard-line policy on Cuba. Additional sanctions were introduced this year, as part of the US effort to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela spearheaded by Bolton and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), son of Cuban exiles.

The Trump administration has accused Cuba of “occupying” Venezuela, claiming that the Cuban military was helping Maduro stay in power.


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Bolton says Trump ‘very serious’ about ‘all options’ as Venezuela dismantles ‘terrorist cell’

Donald Trump is not kidding when he says “all options” to topple Maduro are open, National Security Adviser John Bolton said, as the Venezuelan government busted wannabe president Juan Guaido’s aide for running a terrorist cell.

“President Trump himself has been clear on this point on any number of occasions when he says all options are on the table. I think people need to understand and believe that; he’s very serious about it,” Bolton told Breitbart.

While refusing to explicitly confirm or deny whether the US is willing to arm the opposition or is mulling an all-out invasion of the country, Bolton did stress that the US has “no higher duty internationally” than to protect up to 50,000 Americans living in Venezuela from “violence and intimidation.”

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A similar concern for some 800 American students at the US-run St. George's University School of Medicine in Grenada was used as an excuse to invade that island nation in 1983 to oust the country’s leftist government. The tiny tropical paradise is located just 160 kilometers (99 miles) north of Venezuela.

Once again referencing the notorious Monroe Doctrine, Bolton essentially admitted the US plans to impose its hegemony over Venezuela, and to prevent Russia and China from even trying to help Caracas overcome its economic crisis – which the socialist government maintains was caused by US sanctions and the Washington-led global effort to isolate the country financially and politically.

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“Our goal is to make sure these foreign influences are not controlling Venezuela and adversely affecting the United States and our interests in our own hemisphere,” he said. “So we’re talking here about wresting control away from a socialist autocracy and keeping the Monroe Doctrine alive in the Western Hemisphere to have powers outside the hemisphere not dictating what goes on here.”

Also on ‘Armed terrorist cell’: Venezuela’s Interior Minister confirms arrest of Guaido’s aide...

Maduro made another “big mistake” when he arrested Roberto Marrero, the aide of self-proclaimed ‘interim’ president Guaido, Bolton stated earlier on Thursday, threatening that the move “will not go unanswered.”

Venezuelan security forces said they caught Marrero red-handed and accused him of being “directly responsible for the organization of criminal groups” and of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks against the public and senior government officials.

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‘Embrace democracy, Venezuela!’ Bolton threatens new sanctions, Pompeo vows ‘action’

Failure of the attempted forcing of US “humanitarian aid” into Venezuela has not deterred the Trump administration hawks from seeking regime change in Caracas. They now threaten new sanctions unless Venezuela "embraces democracy.”

Convoys of USAID supplies intended for supporters of US-backed “interim president” Juan Guaido were supposed to cross into Venezuela from Brazil and Colombia on Saturday, but were turned back amid sporadic clashes between the opposition and supporters of President Nicolas Maduro.

Undeterred, US officials have doubled down on regime change rhetoric. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the violence as being “perpetrated by Maduro’s thugs” and said the US backs the families of those who suffered in their “demand for justice.”

The US will take action against those who oppose the peaceful restoration of democracy in Venezuela.

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Pompeo also called Maduro a “sick tyrant” for stopping trucks filled with aid, posted images of burning vehicles on the border bridge and appeared to endorse claims by Guaido supporters that the trucks were set on fire by Venezuelan security forces. There was no evidence to back that claim, however. The trucks had never crossed into Venezuela, and caught fire on the Colombia side of the bridge, where they had been surrounded by opposition activists.

We denounce Maduro’s refusal to let humanitarian assistance reach . What kind of a sick tyrant stops food from getting to hungry people? The images of burning trucks filled with aid are sickening.

Pompeo was echoing the words of US national security adviser John Bolton, who praised Guaido for “personally leading the effort to bring aid to Venezuelan people” in the same tweet in which he urged the Venezuelan military to defect to the US-backed pretender and “choose the road of democracy” over Maduro and a “band of thieves.”

Masked thugs, civilians killed by live rounds, and the burning of trucks carrying badly-needed food and medicine. This has been Maduro’s response to peaceful efforts to help Venezuelans. Countries that still recognize Maduro should take note of what they are endorsing.

According to RT correspondent Dan Cohen, who was on the ground in Cucuta, Colombia, Guaido was nowhere to be seen on Saturday, despite making a flashy appearance at a charity concert the day before and promising he would lead the charge back into Venezuela.

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Carrot and stick

Just over two dozen Venezuelan military and security personnel actually defected to the rebels on Saturday, according to another Guaido cheerleader, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida). Apparently frustrated by the pace of defections, Bolton has issued another threat to the Venezuelan military:

Venezuela’s military has a choice: Embrace democracy, protect civilians, and allow in humanitarian aid; or face even more sanctions and isolation.

Most high-ranking Venezuelan officials are already blacklisted by the US, and the country itself is under an economic, political and diplomatic blockade almost on the level of US sanctions against Iran and North Korea, so it is unclear what more Bolton could threaten them with.

Also on ‘All options open’? Venezuela’s Guaido set to meet Pence, ‘formally’ requests aid to topple Maduro...

On Thursday, Rubio insinuated that the US would be targeting the family of Ivan Hernandez, commander of Maduro’s presidential guard: “You should think very carefully about the actions you take over the next few days in Venezuela. Because...”

... your actions will determine how you spend the rest of your life. Do you really want to be more loyal to Maduro than to your own family?

On Saturday, Bolton was offering a carrot to balance out the proverbial stick, saying that Guaido has given amnesty to Venezuelan military members who defect, and that they can now “stand proud to work on behalf of a democratic Venezuela”

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Even though he campaigned on a platform opposing nation-building, regime change and US interventions, President Donald Trump seems fully on board with the Caracas gambit. He has tried to leverage the Venezuela policy against Democrats at home, arguing that he is opposed to “socialism” anywhere. Pompeo and Bolton have already made threatening comments about Cuba and Nicaragua as well.

On Saturday, though, Trump merely linked a video from his speech about Venezuela in Miami earlier this week, preceded by a one-liner, “God Bless the people of Venezuela!”

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US Warns Nations As Sanctions-Hit Venezuela Turns To India For Oil Export

United Nations: The hardline US National Security Adviser John Bolton has issued a warning to India against buying Venezuelan oil, saying it "will not be forgotten" and that Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Alberto Arreaza has countered that it was an attempt to impose Washington's global "dictatorship".

Bolton tweeted on Tuesday: "Nations and firms that support (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro's theft of Venezuelan resources will not be forgotten", and displayed with it a news story about Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo visiting India to sell more oil.

His tweet continued with the warning: "The US will continue to use all of its powers to preserve the Venezuelan people's assets and we encourage all nations to work together to do the same."

John Bolton made a similar threat against India buying oil from Iran when Trump placed a more stringent international trade embargo on Tehran last year after withdrawing from a nuclear disarmament agreement made with it and five other countries (AFP)

President Donald Trump's administration and its allies have recognized opposition leader and National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the Latin American nation's President and have called on Maduro to quit.

The US does not consider that Maduro's government has the right to sell the country's oil -- and hence, calls the oil exports "theft".

Reacting to Bolton at a news conference, Foreign Minister Arreaza, who represents Maduro, said: "What he (Bolton) is trying to do here is give orders. This is a dictatorship that they are trying to impose on the world. Unilateralism at its maximum expression."

He asserted that because of Bolton's attitude, "there was a rebellion against this, this dictatorship" at a meeting of the representatives of the Non-aligned Movement earlier Tuesday at the UN.

Bolton made a similar threat against India buying oil from Iran when Trump placed a more stringent international trade embargo on Tehran last year after withdrawing from a nuclear disarmament agreement made with it and five other countries.

However, Trump gave India a temporary exemption from the embargo, which carried economic penalties for violations.

5r2vd05oJohn Bolton made a similar threat against India buying oil from Iran when Trump placed a more stringent international trade embargo on Tehran last year after withdrawing from a nuclear disarmament agreement made with it and five other countries (AFP)

Facing an embargo on its oil exports by the US and most western countries, Venezuela is trying to increase sales to India and other countries.

Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo, who is in New Delhi to attend the Petrotech 2019 trade event, told reporters there on Monday that his country wanted to double the current oil exports of 340,000 barrels per day to India.

Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to India. Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy are its biggest customers.

Quevedo, who also heads the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, met India's Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday.

Venezuela has the world's largest known reserves of oil estimated at more than 300 billion barrels - bigger than Saudi Arabia's 266 billion barrels.

India, which is wary of foreign interference in internal affairs, has refused to go along with the US and recognize Guaido as the President and stop dealing with Maduro's administration.

"India and Venezuela enjoy close and cordial relations. We are of the view that it is for the people of Venezuela to find political solutions to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue and discussion without resorting to violence," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said last month.

The simmering dispute over the May 2018 presidential elections, which the US and the Venezuelan opposition say was not fair, erupted into a crisis when the National Assembly on January 10 declared it invalid and Guaido proclaimed himself as the interim President.

Since then there have been massive protests by supporters of both the government and violence has claimed more than 40 lives, according to the UN. The oil-rich country is also facing a humanitarian crisis with severe shortages of food and medicines.

At his news conference, Arreaza said the Maduro government was ready to talk with the opposition, but without preconditions.

"Let's sit down together. We have our Constitution. Let us sit down and engage in dialogue. Let us try to find a solution without any kind of strings attached, or any kind of preconditions," he said.

Trump has ratcheted up Venezuela to his top foreign policy issue and said that US military intervention was an option. One of the problems for Venezuela's trade is that international banks are coming under increasing international pressure from the US.

"How payment is made is for the buyer and seller to decide. It can be in currency, it can be through other transferable methods and channels," Quevedo told reporters in New Delhi.

He floated the idea of a trade group with Venezuela, India, China and Russia whose commerce "doesn't necessarily have to be within the dollar".

  • Published in World

Who Benefits from the Tornado of Lies in Facebook?

Fake News are now plentiful in Facebook and seek to reaffirm the already old opinion trend on the uselessness of the state to solve national problems that has been used by Cuba’s enemies to justify the blockade and other aggressive politics against the Island.

The last electric poles had not yet reached the ground in the different neighborhoods affected by the tornado on January 27th and Facebook was already pondering the great "humanity and solidarity" of alleged freelancers opposed to the inexistent inaction of the state.

Nothing more biased and ridiculous if we take into account the role that has always played the Cuban government in the face of similar catastrophes which is exemplary for almost all countries worldwide and it has been recognized, more than once by different international organizations. Cubans, like nobody else, has not just demonstrated to be solidary with its own people, but also, with the peoples of other countries.

Likewise, the presumed disorder and "inaction" of the state becomes motive for certain donations that rather than solidarity hide the manipulation of the topic of the so-called "humanitarian help", a plot largely used in the past by the U.S. to give reason for invasions against those countries that don't bend to their hegemony.

The best example in this sort of media approach is evidenced right now in Venezuela, where after a cruel economic battle directed from the U.S. against that country, now the puppet stringed from the White House seeks to use the unfortunate help offered by the U.S., and the nations rallied behind them to pull the Venezuelan people out of the crisis.

Needless to say that after almost 60 years of relentless blockade against Cuba, worsen in the last weeks it’s at least revolting to become an accomplice of such trick.

Let’s not forget that, shortly before the passing of the devastating tornado in Havana, the Task Force for the internet in Cuba directed from the United States had activated the campaign to influence the referendum of the Constitution scheduled for next February 24th therefore is not strange to see in social networks associated to the lies about the tornado the hashtag #yovotono.

We must repeat that shortly before the end of last year, in a budgetary report of the Broadcasting Board of Governors of the United States, it became public the plan of using «native» and «unmarked» Cuban Facebook accounts to spread content fabricated by the U.S. government.

The objective of these contents was to set confusion among those who still naively believe that social networks are a trustworthy source of news. Neither humanitarian, neither solidary, their true objective is to incite dissatisfaction and cause riots and public disobedience that, besides attempting against the civic harmony, pouring fuel to new campaigns of lies against Cuba.

We must bear in mind the international context in which this tornado of lies occurs. Last Friday, the fascist U.S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton, was crystal clear when he repeated that the publicized massacre against the Venezuelan people is only the first step of the war of that country against what he calls the "troika of tyranny" that also includes Nicaragua and Cuba.

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US: Pentagon Outlines Options for Military Strike in Iran

A report commissioned by Trump's National Security Advisors last year outlines military options to strike Iran.

For the first time a request made by the White House on “military options to strike Iran” was reported on Sunday by the Wall Street Journal.

RELATED: Pompeo's Middle East Visit Contradicts Trump Admin Policy

The request was initiated by President Trump’s National Security Council which asked the Pentagon to produce the report, a move which seemed unusual, “It definitely rattled people,” stated a former senior U.S. administration official describing the hawkish intentions behind the report, “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran,” the official added.

The move also received criticism from Iranian-American diplomatic relations lobbyists in Washington D.C, who believe the Trump administration is bent on torpedoing the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.

John Bolton and fellow Iran hawks believe they have two years left to collapse the Iran nuclear deal and trigger a disastrous war that the American people want no part of,” said the President of the National Iranian American Council Jamal Abdi.

The petition was allegedly made in response to attacks carried out last year by militants firing mortars into Baghdad’s diplomatic quarter in which the U.S. Embassy is located.

However, this alleged justification based on the Iraq attack it appears to be an excuse to carry out an agenda consisting in removing the Iranian government held by longstanding officials with hawkish intentions: “We know that Bolton and other administration officials preferred an Iran war to negotiations prior to serving Trump. Now there is confirmation that they are still seeking out opportunities to fulfill their war agenda,” added Abdi.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s report, there are some blind corners on the specifics of the White House request. Two things stand out. First, if President Trump was aware of the request at the time of submission, and second if these plans were seriously concocted.

Nonetheless, there are clear causes of concern related to the people in charge of handling Iran policy who are quick to call for military intervention. Key officials in the current White House Administration, such as National Security Adviser John Bolton have been outspoken about their position on removing the government of Iran, “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran,” said Bolton in 2015.

The attack perpetrated on Iraq’s diplomatic quarter in September 2018 did not lead to any casualties. The United States government claimed that Iran did not stop its allies from carrying out the attack, according to a White House press statement. The accusation was categorically rejected by Iran’s foreign ministry and described it as “astonishing, provocative, and irresponsible,” according to Iran’s media reports.

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Venezuelan President Renews Calls for Regional Integration Amid Diplomatic Attacks

President Maduro insisted on the need of a high-level regional meeting to discuss all subjects of common interest, including Venezuela. 

The newly-inaugurated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro issued a call for Latin American and Caribbean unity and proposed a special regional presidential summit to debate all issues of common interest.

RELATED: UN Chief Assures Will Continue Working With Venezuelan Gov't

Since Maduro was sworn in Thursday, Venezuela has had to endure a series of diplomatic attacks from countries aligned to United States foreign policy in the region. Paraguay severed diplomatic relations, Argentina issued a statement reiterating the government’s belief that Maduro’s second term is illegitimate, etc.

Despite the attacks, Maduro urged for a high-level meeting to “allow us to overcome the environment of intolerance, of ideological aggression that hurts our continent, that counters the dream of our liberators, that betrays the dream of unity of our liberators.”

President Maduro ratified Venezuela’s commitment to sovereign regional integration and a “diplomacy of peace.” However, the rise of right-wing government in the region has undermined what was once a regional goal. Last year, six countries temporarily withdrew of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur). Colombia announced its permanent withdrawal and over 6 months later there has been no diplomatic solution and Unasur remains paralyzed.

ANALYSIS: How Lima Group Undermines Unasur's Regional Sovereignty Mission

The disintegration of Unasur, led by members of the Lima Group, was crucial to further isolate Venezuela. Buth the Maduro administration has not been passive, instead it has strengthened ties with Caribbean nations and geopolitical players like China and Russia.

On Friday, he is expected to hold several bilateral meetings.

Latin American governments, accompanied by U.S. or Canadian representatives, often meet to discuss Venezuela. President Maduro wants a high-level meeting where they can discuss Venezuela before him, to speak “face to face.”

In regards to the government of Colombia, which has been particularly aggressive, Maduro said he wished to talk to President Ivan Duque “so he can talk about Venezuela and I’ll talk to him about Colombia.”

Maduro has been a vocal critic of the systemic murder of social and community leaders in Colombia’s rural areas. Last year, over 400 were killed with impunity. The Venezuelan head of state also said he was willing to explain to Duque how, after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) left the country, Venezuela was capable of eradicating coca cultivation.


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US John Bolton: Palestine Not a State

Bolton referred to Palestine a "so-called state,” adding that denying Palestine’s statehood does not undermine the Trump Administration’s plans for peace in the Middle East.

United States National Security Adviser John Bolton, on Wednesday, reiterated that Palestine was “not a state,” during an address at the White House.

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"It's not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood," he said. "It doesn't control defined boundaries. It doesn't fulfill normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it's not a state," the security adviser said.

Bolton was resolute in referring to Palestine a "so-called state,” also adding that refusing to acknowledge Palestine’s statehood does not undermine U.S. President Donald Trump Administration’s plans for peace in the Middle East. Last week, the U.S. president said his administration will offer a Mideast peace plan within the next two to four months.

"It could become a state, as the president said, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others," Bolton added, doubling down on his remarks, saying there was nothing historically remarkable about U.S. officials denying that Palestine is a state.

"Calling it the so-called state of Palestine defines exactly what it has been, a position that the United States government has pursued uniformly since 1988 when the Palestinian authority declared itself to be the State of Palestine," he continued. "We don't recognize it as the State of Palestine, we have consistently across Democratic and Republican administrations opposed the admission of Palestine to the United Nations as a state because it's not a state."

The Trump administration, in a controversial decision, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem - Palestine’s capital - from Tel-Aviv in May.

The Palestinian Authority filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a United Nations tribunal, to contest the United States’ action.

The Palestine Liberation Organization declared independence in 1988 and 137 United Nations member states recognizes the declaration.

  • Published in World
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