US Sanctions 5 Hotels in Cuba on the 500th Anniversary of Havana

The US government added five hotels to its “blacklist” of Cuban companies with which Americans are prohibited from conducting business on Friday, coinciding with the celebration of Havana’s 500th anniversary, the agency EFE said.

In a statement issued just one day before the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Cuban capital, the State Department reported these changes in the list, which will take effect on Tuesday 19.

“Havana was one of the most dynamic and prosperous cities in the Americas. Far from being a celebration, this anniversary is a sad reminder of how the revolution continues to fail its people by usurping the Cuban economy, instead of reforming it to fulfill Cuba’s economic potential,” said the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in a statement.

Specifically, Washington imposed sanctions on five hotels: the Grand Hotel Bristol Kempinski, located in Havana; the Grand Aston Varadero Resort, located in the city of Varadero; the Grand Aston Cayo Las Brujas Beach Resort and Spa, which is located in Cayo Las Brujas; and the Grand Muthu Imperial Hotel and the Grand Muthu Rainbow Hotel, both located in Cayo Guillermo.

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US President Donald Trump created this “blacklist” in June 2018 to ban transactions of US citizens with companies “under control or acting on behalf” of Cuba’s military, intelligence and security services, according to the Department of State.

On that island many of the hotels are owned by companies controlled by the Armed Forces and are managed in a mixed enterprise regime by foreign corporations, such as the Meliá or Iberostar group, based in Spain.

Thus, now, the list affects about 230 Cuban entities, including the Army business conglomerate, the Group of Business Administration SA (GAESA), which is estimated to control about two thirds of the island’s retail business, and the tourism group that depends on that institution, Gaviota.

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The Trump administration wants US citizens traveling to the island, under exceptional categories that allow their visit, not to stay in the hotels included on the list and they cannot buy goods in companies linked to the sanctioned entities.

The inclusion of these companies in that “blacklist” also means that US citizens, including nationalized Cubans, can be sued in US courts if they claim that they are benefiting from properties in Cuba that were confiscated after the Revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959.

That is possible because, in May, Trump allowed for the first time in history the activation of Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act, which all American presidents before him had kept suspended since that rule was passed, in 1996.

Since arriving at the White House in January 2017, Trump has toughened policy toward Cuba with the tightening of the commercial embargo, the prohibition of cruises to the island and reductions of diplomatic personnel.

Source URL: Aporrea

Translated by JRE/EF

US Sanctions 5 Hotels in Cuba on the 500th Anniversary of Havana