The Cuban Foreign Minister rejects this move as a “punitive measure” aimed at intensifying the US blockade against Cuba.
The United States added a Cuban bank to its restricted business list because the financial institution has ties to the Cuban military and its profits help fund the country’s “interference” in Venezuela.
In a statement on Friday, the US State Department said it would add Banco Financiero International SA (BFI) to the Cuba Restricted List, a list of companies that the US claims have links with the Cuban military, intelligence or security services to have.
Persons subject to US jurisdiction are prohibited from conducting financial transactions with institutions on the list.
“The inclusion of BFI on the Cuba Restricted List supports the government’s goal of preventing the Cuban military from controlling and benefiting from financial transactions that should instead benefit the Cuban people,” Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo said in the statement.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez rejected the announcement and tweeted on Friday that it was a “punitive measure by the US State Department to tighten the blockade against Cuba”.
“The inclusion of Cuban units on their lists is intended to reinforce an economic siege that the Cuban revolution has not destroyed after 62 years,” wrote Rodriguez.
I am opposed to a new punitive measure from the US State Department to intensify the blockade against #Cuba.
The addition of Cuban units to his lists is intended to reinforce an economic siege that the Cuban revolution did not destroy after 62 years.
– Bruno Rodríguez P (@BrunoRguezP) January 1, 2021
The move comes after US media reports that the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump is considering whether to expel Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism in the final days of his term.
The New York Times said the State Department had worked out a proposal but it was unclear whether Pompeo would sign it.
US Congressman Gregory Meeks, the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has warned Pompeo against naming terrorism and said he will tie the hands of new US President Joe Biden.
“This would clearly be another stunt by President Trump and Pompeo,” said Meeks.
A State Department spokesman declined to comment on “possible designation considerations.”
Biden change of policy
Biden, slated to be inaugurated Jan. 20, plans to bring Washington closer to normalized relations with Havana, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.
That includes easing restrictions on travel, investments and remittances, as well as lifting many of the sanctions and other regulations imposed by the Trump administration, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the discussions.
Biden was vice president when the US and Cuba agreed to restore diplomatic ties.
“Today the US is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba,” said then-President Barack Obama in December 2014 when the move was announced.
“We will begin to normalize relations between our two nations. With these changes, we want to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people and begin a new chapter. “
Obama visited Cuba later in 2016 – the first such trip by a seated US guide in nearly 90 years.