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US adds Cuba remittances firm to sanctions list

Remittances by Cubans living abroad and tourism are important sources of income for the Communist-run island (AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

Washington (AFP) - Washington on Wednesday added seven Cuban companies and hotels to its list of entities under sanctions, including financial firm Fincimex which handles remittances to the island, the US State Department said.

Remittances sent from Cubans abroad are one of Communist-run island's main sources of income along with tourism.

"We will continue to stop the flow of money into the pockets of those who oppress the Cuban people. 61 years of oppression and dictatorship are enough," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

"To the Cuban people: you deserve better and we stand with you."

The new additions to the Cuba Restricted List are seven "subentities" controlled by the Cuban military, including Fincimex, three hotels, two diving centers and a tourist marine park, the State Department said in a statement.

"In particular, the addition of financial institution FINCIMEX to the Cuba Restricted List will help address the regime's attempts to control the flow of hard currency that belongs to the Cuban people," it said.

Under President Donald Trump, Washington has reversed the thaw in relations with Cuba which began under his predecessor Barack Obama.

Cuba has been subjected to a US embargo since 1962 and Trump has ramped up sanctions again, as well as canceled or suspended many of the agreements made during Obama's term.

In October last year, the US capped family remittances to Cuba at $1,000 per quarter per person and prohibited them for officials relatives and members of the Communist Party.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted it was "shameful and criminal to intensify the blockade" during the COVID-19 pandemic -- which has dealt a severe blow to the island's economy which is highly dependent on tourism.

The US State Department said "the bulk of Cuba's tourism industry is owned and operated by the Cuban military."