US Sanctions Cuba, Places Travel Ban on Leader Raul Castro For Supporting Venezuela Government

On Thursday, the United States imposed a travel ban on Cuban leader Raul Castro and his children in response to Castro's support for the regime of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, according to Al Jazeera and Reuters.

Castro and his immediate family have been barred from entering America—including his children, Alejandro Castro Espin, Mariela Castro Espin, Nilsa Castro Espin and Deborah Castro Espin.

"As First Secretary of Cuba's Armed Forces, Castro is responsible for Cuba's actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation, and repression," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.

"In concert with Maduro's military and intelligence officers, members of the Cuban security forces have been involved in gross human rights violations and abuses in Venezuela, including torture," Pompeo added, and also accused Castro of overseeing "a system that arbitrarily detains thousands of Cubans and currently holds more than 100 political prisoners."

The impact this will have on Castro's entry into the United States is, at this time, unknown. He last appeared in the country in 2015 to address the United Nations General Assembly; only one of his children, LGBTQ activist Mariela Castro Espin, has been to the country in recent years.

Cuban leader Raul Castro (C) acknowledges applause as he arrives at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso on March 22, 2016 in Havana, Cuba. Castro and his children became the subject of a travel ban by the Trump administration Thursday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The U.S., along with fifty other countries, oppose and consider Maduro's regime illegitimate and support opposition forces led by Juan Guaido. Guaido invoked Venezuela's constitution in January to declare himself interim president after Maduro won a widely boycotted election.

Maduro called for Guaido's arrest, declaring his statement an attempt at a coup co-orchestrated with the United States. The two opposing forces have met as recently as July to discuss the ongoing crisis.

Maduro still draws support from Cuba, Russia and China. A Chinese contractor offered to repair Venezuela's refineries and restore its fuel production in exchange for oil products in August after US sanctions hit the country. Venezuela's state institutions also recognize Maduro as president.

This is the latest in a string of sanctions the Trump administration has enacted against the Cuban government. Last week, the US Department of State required the immediate departure of two of Cuba's United Nations Mission delegates from the country and restricted travel for the rest of the country's delegates to the Island of Manhattan, citing "attempts to conduct influence operations against the U.S." Cuba strongly rejected these allegations as "gross slander."

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded to the sanctions with scorn, telling Reuters it was an attempt at "humiliating" Castro.

"And neither Raul Castro nor his family even want to come to this country! We are forced to come here because the U.N. headquarters is in New York, for now."

US Sanctions Cuba, Places Travel Ban on Leader Raul Castro For Supporting Venezuela Government | World