WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday slapped sanctions on a powerful Cuban general and business leader, in its latest pressure on the communist island weeks ahead of US elections.
The Treasury Department took action against Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja, a son-in-law of former president Raul Castro who heads GAESA, a conglomerate with wide economic interests including hotels that is affiliated with the military.
“The revenue generated from the economic activities of GAESA is used to oppress the Cuban people and to fund Cuba’s parasitic, colonial domination of Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Under the order, any assets of Lopez-Calleja in the United States will be frozen and any transactions with him subject to US prosecution.
The action comes a month ahead of US elections in which Trump to secure another term needs to win Florida, where his Republican base includes many Cuban Americans who are intensely opposed to the communist state set up by Fidel Castro.
The sanctions come a week after the Trump administration further tightened travel restrictions on Cuba, barring Americans from staying at government-owned hotels or from checking Cuban rum and cigars into their luggage home.
Former president Barack Obama, whose vice president Joe Biden is running against Trump, had reversed course on Cuba and established diplomatic relations and greater travel ties, saying the half-century effort to topple the Havana regime had been a failure.