National security advisor discusses Venezuela, Russia and Cuba relations, and the alleged attacks on U.S. personnel in Cuba
National security adviser John Bolton will travel to Miami next week to give a speech on actions that the United States is taking to address the situation in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, countries he has called the “troika of tyranny.”
“[I am] Pleased to announce that I will be joining the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association on April 17 in Miami to deliver remarks on the important steps being taken by the Administration to confront security threats related to Cuba, Venezuela, and the democratic crisis in Nicaragua,” Bolton tweeted on Friday.
Also on Friday, the Treasury Department announced more sanctions against nine vessels that have carried oil from Venezuela to Cuba. Bolton is expected to announce more sanctions related to Cuba during the speech, a source familiar with details of the trip told the Miami Herald.
According to John Kavulich, president of the U.S. Cuba Trade and Economic Council, the Trump administration has a wide range of options to increase pressure on the Cuban government, which the U.S. has accused of giving intelligence support to Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro.
Among the policy options being floated are returning Cuba to the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, reinstating per diem spending rates for travelers to Cuba, sanctioning Cuban government officials who are supporting Maduro in Venezuela and requiring American companies with businesses on the island to pay salaries directly to their Cuban workers.
This last measure would have an immediate impact on the operations of airlines, cruise ships and companies like Marriott and Starwood that manage hotels on the island.
The State Department said Friday that the U.S. “will continue to do all we can to stand up against Cuba’s support for the former Maduro regime and its hostility to the Venezuelan people’s aspiration to a peaceful, prosperous, democratic future.” The Trump administration and more than 50 other nations no longer recognize Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela, recognizing instead interim President Juan Guaidó.
As it relates to Cuba, the administration must decide by next week whether to fully implement Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which would allow Americans to file lawsuits to seek compensation for properties that were confiscated after Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba in 1959. The administration has already allowed lawsuits against Cuban companies that control some of these confiscated properties. But a full implementation would also pave the way for lawsuits against foreign and American companies that have businesses in Cuba on those same properties.
The date chosen for Bolton’s speech in Miami carries a special symbolism for Cuban exiles, who mostly supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections. April 17 marks another anniversary of the 1961 failed Bay of Pigs invasion, an attempt by Cuban exiles — trained by the U.S. government — to defeat Castro and regain power on the island.
Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres