The United States on Friday imposed new sanctions on Cuba over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and its human rights record at home.
The Department of Commerce said in a statement that it is revoking existing licenses for aircraft leases to Cuban state-owned airlines and will deny future applications for aircraft leases.
The US will also expand sanctions to include more foreign goods containing US content and impose additional restrictions on exports to the Cuban government, the statement said.
“This action by the Commerce Department sends another clear message to the Cuban regime – that they must immediately cease their destructive behavior at home and abroad,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Last month the US imposed sanctions on Cuba’s Raul Castro, along with his children for his support of Maduro.
‘Unfair and genocidal’
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel rejected the decision, calling it “inhumane, cruel, unfair and genocidal” in a post on Twitter.
#US announces new measures tightening blockade on #Cuba. This action expresses impotence, moral degradation and imperial contempt. It's an inhuman, cruel, unjust and genocidal act that we strongly reject. We will not give in and shall give a sovereign response. pic.twitter.com/cux5K1F8KO
— Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB) October 18, 2019
In a separate statement, the US State Department criticised Cuba for its detention of dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer, calling on Havana to disclose his whereabouts, treat him humanely and release him without condition.
Ferrer, a prominent figure who leads the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was arrested in Santiago de Cuba on October 1 after a police raid on his home, which is also the group’s headquarters.
Cuba’s government does not typically discuss police activity, including the detention of dissidents, who Havana dismisses as provocateurs funded by the US.
Relations between Cuba and the US have deteriorated under President Donald Trump.
Trump has stopped short of breaking off diplomatic relations with Cuba restored by then-President Barack Obama in 2015 after more than 50 years of hostility.