The U.S. administration announced recently that the Treasury Department has introduced new sanctions targeting Cuban support for Venezuela.
On April 12, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four companies that operate in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy and maintain close ties to the Cuban government. In a relatively rare move, OFAC also designated “nine [maritime] vessels,” some of which transported oil from Venezuela to Cuba, as blocked property owned by the four companies.
“We continue to target companies that transport Venezuelan oil to Cuba, as they are profiting while the [Nicolás] Maduro regime pillages natural resources. Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and should not be used as a bargaining tool to prop up dictators and prolong oppression,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in remarks to the media.
Months ago, as the current political crisis in Venezuela was reaching its peak, the fall of Nicolás Maduro seemed like the most likely outcome as numerous nations came out in support of opposition leader and self-declared interim President Juan Guaidó. However, Maduro has found himself several lifelines, not the least of which being the Russians. As well, the Cuban government has been and continues to be a major supporter of the current regime. In fact, Cuban support for Venezuela has been essential for Maduro for years. “Maduro relies on the support he receives from the Cuban military and intelligence services to retain his hold on power because he does not have the support of the Venezuelan people,” said Mnuchin in the same address. The U.S. remains determined to clamp down on these means of support in any way it can.