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More Sanctions Slapped on Venezuela, as Cuba Feels Effects of Aid Cutoff

May 11, 2019 (EIRNS)—In his daily bellowing routine, National Security Advisor John Bolton yesterday ranted in tweets against “malign actors Russia, Cuba and Iran”—how Iran figures in this situation hasn’t been explained—“for enabling repression” of the Venezuelan people. The U.S. is putting those nations “on notice,” he raved.

As part of the policy of strangling Venezuela—and Cuba—the Treasury Department announced yesterday it had imposed sanctions on two companies, the Monsoon Navigation Corporation and the Serenity Maritime Ltd., and their oil tankers, for transporting oil from Venezuela to Cuba. The sanctions block the firms and ships from having any dealings with U.S. persons or companies and freeze any assets they might possess in the U.S.

In announcing the sanctions yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated that Venezuela’s defense and security sector will also be subject to sanctions going forward, The Hill reported. This comes in response to the May 9 arrest by Venezuela’s intelligence service, SEBIN, of top opposition figure Edgar Zambrano. Mnuchin warned that Treasury’s action

“puts Venezuela’s military and intelligence services, as well as those who support them, on notice that their continued backing of the illegitimate Maduro regime will be met with serious consequences. The U.S. will take further action if Cuba continues to receive Venezuelan oil in exchange for military support.”

Cuba is the major recipient of foreign aid from Venezuela, largely in the form of subsidized oil. Britain’s Guardian reports today that as a result of the cutoff of oil and other aid, the Cuban government has announced it is initiating rationing on chicken, eggs, rice, beans, soap and other staples, given its grave economic crisis. Commerce Minister Betty Diaz Velazquez said the measure is necessary due to shortages of food staples, as a result of the Trump administration’s intensifying economic embargo. Shipments of subsidized oil to Cuba from Venezuela have been reduced by two-thirds. It’s becoming common to see long lines of Cubans outside of markets waiting to purchase scarce staples, at times when they become available. Cuba imports 60-70% of its food.

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