“Today, the Department of State is announcing the addition of Banco Financiero International S.A. (BFI) to the Cuba Restricted List, effective upon publication in early January,” said US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo in a statement on the weekend.
“BFI is a Cuban military-controlled commercial bank that benefits directly from financial transactions at the expense of the Cuban people,” he added.
“The Cuban military uses BFI’s key role in foreign exchange to give military and state companies preferential access, secure advantageous exchange rates, and finance government-controlled projects that enrich the regime.
“The profits earned from these operations disproportionately benefit the Cuban military rather than independent Cuban entrepreneurs, furthering repression of the Cuban people and funding Cuba’s interference in Venezuela,” Pompeo continued. “President Trump has made it clear that he stands with the Cuban people in their longstanding struggle for freedom and against the communist regime in Havana.
“Adding BFI to the Cuba Restricted List furthers the administration’s goal of preventing the Cuban military from controlling and benefiting from financial transactions that should instead benefit the Cuban people,” he said.
Just before Christmas the Trump administration added three more Cuban military-owned companies to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List).
Pompeo said at the time that the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) made the addition.
“All property and interests in property of these entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of persons subject to US jurisdiction continue to be blocked and must be reported to OFAC,” Pompeo said.
He said the companies were Grupo de Administración Empresarial SA (GAESA), FINCIMEX, and Kave Coffee S.A.
Pompeo said GAESA is the Cuban military’s largest company, which controls large portions of Cuba’s economy for the military’s benefit.
“Cuban military-controlled FINCIMEX funnels remittances through channels that disproportionately benefit the Cuban military,” he said.
Pompeo also said that Kave Coffee S.A., a coffee company domiciled in Havana and incorporated in Panama, is “part of an international network of Cuban-owned companies maintained by the Cuban military and used to evade the US embargo.
“The revenue generated from the Cuban military’s economic activities is used to entrench the Cuban military’s control, prop up the Cuban Communist Party’s power, oppress the Cuban people and fund Cuba’s interference in Venezuela,” he said.
“Today’s action demonstrates the United States’ long-standing commitment to ending economic practices that disproportionately benefit the Cuban government or its military, intelligence, and security agencies or personnel, at the expense of the Cuban people,” he added. “It also demonstrates the United States’ commitment to disrupting Cuba’s malign support for the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela.
“The United States will continue to support the Cuban people in their desire for a democratic government and respect for human rights, including freedom of religion, expression, and association,” the US Secretary of State continued. “Until these rights and freedoms are respected, we will continue to hold the regime accountable.”