March 5 (UPI) -- The White House announced that it is tightening its decades-old embargo on Cuba as the Caribbean country has voiced its support for embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a 30-day suspension of Title III of the so-called Libertad Act, which allows Americans to sue companies that use properties confiscated during the Cuban communist revolution of 1959.
The suspension only allows suits to be filed against entities on the Cuba Restricted List, which are under the control of the Cuban military, intelligence and security services, the department said in its announcement.
At the end of the 30-day suspension, which would be April 17, more companies would be open to lawsuits.
Every administration since the Helms-Burton Act was made law in 1996 until now has suspended Title III every six months, NPR reported.
"Today, I announce an exception to the 30-day suspension of Title III of the Libertad Act," Pompeo said in a tweet. "We must hold Cuba accountable and make whole U.S. claimants for assets seized by the Cuban government. Doing business with Cuba is not worth trafficking in confiscated property."
Today I announce an exception to the 30-day suspension of #TitleIII of the Libertad Act. We must hold #Cuba accountable and make whole U.S. claimants for assets seized by the Cuban government. Doing business with Cuba is not worth trafficking in confiscated property.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 4, 2019
The State Department's announcement states that the companies included on the Cuba Restricted List are those "directly responsible for the repression of the Cuban people."
However, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Cuba "strongly rejects" the move as an escalation of U.S. aggression toward the Caribbean nation.
"The State Department decision is a hostile and irresponsible action intended to tighten blockade and suffocate Cuban economy," he said in a tweet.
A statement on the foreign ministry's website published Monday states the U.S. decision to extend the suspension only 30 days imposes new obstacles to Cuba's economic development, which is part of the United States' failing goal to achieve Cuba's submission in its building of socialism.
"The majority feelings of the peoples of Cuba and the United States in favor of improving relations and establishing a civilized and respectful coexistence shall prevail," it said.
However, the United States contends that the move is to force Cuba to adhere to human rights.
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton tweeted that the United States will continue to tighten restrictions on Cuba as long as it is committing human rights violations.
Cuba’s role in usurping democracy and fomenting repression in Venezuela is clear. That’s why the U.S. will continue to tighten financial restrictions on Cuba’s military and intel services. The region’s democracies should condemn the Cuba regime.— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) March 4, 2019
"Cuba's role in usurping democracy and fomenting repression in Venezuela is clear. That's why the U.S. will continue to tighten financial restriction on Cuba's military and intel services," Bolton said.
The restrictions come as Cuba, as well as China and Russia, has voiced support for Maduro in contradiction to the United States and some 50 other countries who have backed opposition leader Juan Guaido's self-appointed status as the Venezuela's interim president.
Bolton has previously said that part of the problem in Venezuela is that Cuba has some 20,000 to 25,000 security officials there, a claim that Rodriguez denies.
"A government famous for resorting to lies has in Bolton a high exponent of such practice. He lies when saying that there are 25 thousand Cuban troops in Venezuela," he said.
Rodriguez added that his country will ensure its economic partners and foreign companies working in Cuba "full guarantees" on foreign investments and joint projects.
"They'll be supported by Cuban laws, international law and the laws of their respective countries," he said.
The additional 30-day suspicion will begin March 19 and end April 17.