WASHINGTON—The Trump administration announced it was adding the son-in-law of retired Cuban leader Raul Castro to its sanctions list for “specially designated nationals and blocked persons.”
The departments of State and Treasury said Wednesday that Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, the husband of Castro’s daughter, Deborah, was helping to fund human rights abuses and working in concert with Venezuela to suppress Cubans’ freedoms using revenue generated from the Cuban military’s financial arm: the Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A. (GAESA).
López-Calleja is the head of GAESA, which controls state-owned businesses including hotels, factories, stores, and an airline. The move freezes any assets he may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bars Americans from doing business with him.
“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. “Today’s action demonstrates the United States’ long-standing commitment to ending economic practices that disproportionately benefit the Cuban government or its military, intelligence, and security agencies or personnel at the expense of the Cuban and Venezuelan people.”
The announcement is the administration’s latest action against Cuba and comes just two days after it imposed sanctions on a debit card operation that allowed Cubans to buy food, appliances and other items with money sent by relatives in the United States.
On Monday, Pompeo announced that FINCIMEX, a Cuban state company that processes remittances and issues the American International Services debit card, had been added to the sanctions list. The government began accepting the card for purchases in July amid the coronavirus pandemic that worsened the lack of food on the island and sparked long lines for goods. It became so popular that FINCIMEX temporarily stopped accepting applications in mid-August but resumed them this month.
The administration has been steadily ramping up pressure on both Cuba and Venezuela, which remains in a humanitarian and leadership crisis as Nicolas Maduro refuses to resign.
“The United States will continue to support the Cuban people in their desire for a democratic government and respect for human rights, including freedom of religion, expression, and association. Until these rights and freedoms are respected, we will continue to hold the regime accountable,” Pompeo said.
By Matthew Lee. NTD contributed to this report.