Spain wants EU to challenge US policy in Cuba

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about the Trump administration's Cuba policy during a press briefing at the US Department of State

Spain wants EU to challenge US policy in Cuba

The U.S. accuses Havana of providing key support to the government of Venezuelan socialist President Nicolas Maduro, whom Washington considers illegitimate.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: At a luncheon this afternoon put on by Bay of Pigs veterans in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables, the keynote speaker was White House national security adviser John Bolton. Nicolás Maduro has been president of Venezuela since 2013, but his presidency has been in dispute since January with a number of countries, including the United States supporting Juan Guaidó as interim president.

Bolton also insisted that suffocating the Cuban government will end the "glamorization of socialism and communism" and bring down the other two parts of what Trump calls the western hemisphere's "troika of tyranny", Venezuela and Nicaragua. "The aggressive escalation of the United States against Cuba will fail".

"We believe that the issue of outstanding US claims should not be conflated with the cause of furthering democracy and human rights in Cuba, or by our shared desire urgently to find a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela", Mogherini and Malmström wrote in a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 10 April.

"The EU and Canada consider the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures contrary to global law".

Bolton announced a new cap on the amount of money that families in the United States can send their relatives in Cuba.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (feh-deh-REE'-kah moh-gehr-EE'-nee) and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland say the US move "to renege on its longstanding commitment" to avert such legal action "is regrettable". But the industry has seen a decline since President Trump took office and rolled back several Obama-era policies.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will defend the interests of Canadian businesses in Cuba following the decision by the U.S.to allow lawsuits against foreign firms doing business on the island.

"This doesn't punish the Cuban government; it lets them off the hook", said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a coalition of private companies and organizations that lobbies for the end of the USA embargo of Cuba. "But I feel very sad - too many years waiting".

"What we are leading the Cuban people toward is a darker day where there will be less economic opportunity, there will be less of a middle class and essentially just very hard times to come for the people of Cuba", he told NPR's Carrie Kahn.

WELNA: And it's also likely a big setback for settling the claims of some 6,000 Americans whose demands Cuba has recognized as legitimate by opening the door to hundreds of thousands of lawsuits seeking hundreds of billions of dollars from Cuba.

The administration is expected to announce Wednesday that it will allow lawsuits against foreign companies doing business in properties seized from Americans after Cuba's 1959 revolution.

Isabel Celaa said Wednesday "the Spanish government will give its backing to Spanish companies in Cuba".

"No one is going to take away from us, neither by allurement or by force", Cuba's Díaz-Canel responded on Twitter.

Pompeo announced earlier Wednesday that the administration will end waivers, activated by five presidents over the past 20 years, of a 1996 law allowing compensation lawsuits by US citizens against any entity or person "trafficking" in confiscated property in Cuba.

It was signed by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, along with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. "They've exported this to Venezuela in direct support of the former Maduro regime", Pompeo said.

The statement specifically declares that these sanctions are not created to target the people of Venezuela and will not prevent the flow of humanitarian aid into Venezuela. He says the Trump administration seems more interested in winning votes in South Florida than it is in settling those certified claims.

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