US bans Cuba′s Raul Castro over Maduro support | News | DW | 26.09.2019
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US bans Cuba's Raul Castro over Maduro support

The US has banned former Cuban President Raul Castro from entry. The move comes a day after Washington expanded restrictions on Venezuelans and Iranians to include even the relatives of certain state employs.

On Thursday, the State Department banned travel to the US by Cuban Communist Party head and former President Raul Castro, the younger brother of the late revolutionary and longtime leader Fidel Castro. The State Department also banned the former president's four children.

"Castro is responsible for Cuba's actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation and repression," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement released Thursday, referring to President Nicolas Maduro.

Read more: Chavez gone, but anti-American allies remain

On Wednesday, the administration announced prohibitions on the entry Venezuelans and foreigners who act "on behalf of or in support of" Maduro's government or derive "significant financial benefit." That includes members of the Constitutional Assembly and officers of the army, police or national guard, as well as immediate relatives, including people who already have travel visas for the US.

The announcements came during the UN General Assembly, at which heads of state and government convene annually in New York with senior members of their staff and other officials. A representative of the US government told the Spanish-language news agency EFE that "the proclamation will not affect the obligations of the US government according to the applicable international agreements." As one of the countries in which the United Nations is headquartered, the US is obliged to allow foreign functionaries to represent their governments at the global body.

Read more: China and Japan take a trip to Cuba

'Forced to come'

The 88-year-old Castro — who, as the first secretary of the Communist Party, remains Cuba's most influential figure — last visited in 2015 to address the General Assembly. His children have rarely traveled to the US; Mariela Castro Espin, an activist for LGBTQ+ rights, made stops in New York and San Francisco in 2012.

"Neither Raul Castro nor his family even want to come to this country," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said. "We are forced to come here because the UN headquarters is in New York for now."

Read more: Thousands pay tribute to Venezuela's Chavez

Another ban announced Wednesday applies to senior officials of Iran's government and their relatives.

mkg/rc (EFE, Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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