Doubling down on its campaign for regime change in Caracas, the US has announced sanctions on Cuban leader Raul Castro and his four children, for alleged human rights violations in support of the Venezuelan government.
As First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, Castro is in charge of a system that arbitrarily holds over 100 political prisoners, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Thursday.
In his capacity as First Secretary of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, Castro is “responsible for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation and repression,” Pompeo said in a statement, accusing the Cuban leader of being “complicit in undermining Venezuela’s democracy and triggering the hemisphere’s largest humanitarian crisis.”
Castro’s children, Alejandro, Deborah, Mariela and Nilsa have also been sanctioned, Pompeo added. As none of them have any property in the US or expect to ever visit there, the act is largely symbolic.
The US has openly sought regime change in Caracas since January, claiming the government of President Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate and recognizing the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido instead. While much of South America and several US allies around the globe have followed suit, most of the world has not – and Guaido himself has repeatedly failed to seize power, in a series of publicity stunts that included an abortive military coup in April.
Washington has sought to explain this failure by claiming that Cuba, Russia and even Iran are backing Maduro’s government.
While the regime-change policy appeared to be the brainchild of former national security adviser John Bolton, after he was dismissed earlier this month US President Donald Trump said he was even tougher on the issue of Venezuela and that Bolton had been “holding [him] back.”