In Targeting Venezuela, the Trump Administration Targets Cuba

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Saturday, April 13, 2019
Alex Psilakis

On April 5, 2019, the Trump administration announced its decision to issue sanctions against 34 ships owned or operated by Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the state-run oil company. The administration also levied sanctions against two international companies that ship Venezuelan oil to Cuba. Days later, on April 8, the Trump administration issued another ruling against Cuba, prohibiting Cuban athletes from playing in Major League Baseball (MLB) unless they defected. Although MLB officials asserted that they worked closely alongside the Treasury Department in 2018 before signing any sort of agreement with Cuba, the Trump administration displayed no hesitancy in striking down such a deal. Both of these decisions, which took place within a week of each other, reveal a new, serious strategy of the Trump administration: to pressure Venezuela and Cuba. While the Trump administration has unquestionably issued these sanctions to further tighten the financial stranglehold on Venezuela, one primary objective of these levies is to cut off the oil trade to Cuba. On average, Venezuela ships Cuba 20,000 to 50,000 barrels of oil a day. In response, Cuba shares intelligence and counterintelligence services with them.