On Thursday, National Security Adviser John Bolton told an audience in Miami about what is expected to be a harsher policy from the Trump administration toward Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Bolton will speak in front of the Freedom Tower, where Cuban refugees 50 years ago were welcomed to the United States.
Bolton hinted at his upcoming remarks on Wednesday, tweeting, “Tomorrow I will give remarks on President Trump’s policy in Latin America at this historic Freedom Tower in Miami, Florida—I can think of no more fitting setting.
On Thursday, Bolton asserted, “This triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua is the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western Hemisphere. Under President Trump, the United States is taking direct action against all three regimes to defend the rule of law, liberty, and basic human decency in our region.”
Bolton also announced that the State Department sanctioned roughly 25 businesses owned or controlled by the Cuban military and intelligence services, thus blocking them from doing business with U.S. citizens or businesses. He said, “The Cuban military and intelligence agencies must not disproportionately profit from the United States, its people, its travelers, or its businesses.”
President Trump has already differed sharply from his predecessor, as Trump has implemented tough sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua; the sanctions against Nicaragua were prompted by the Ortega government using brutal means to suppress protests. Unlike Barack Obama’s warmth toward the repressive Cuban government, Trump yanked virtually all of the U.S. embassy staff from Havana after they suffered inexplicable health problems.
As The Washington Free Beacon notes, “Trump is trying to motivate conservative voters in Southwest Florida and the Panhandle to go to the polls and punch their ballot for GOP governor candidate Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott. Democrats are trying to energize Democratic voters in Miami for governor candidate Andrew Gillum and Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.).”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American who is fiercely against the Castro government in Cuba, introduced Bolton.
On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order authorizing new sanctions on Venezuela’s gold sector, as Trump wants to disrupt Venezuela’s trade with Turkey that is helping Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro stay in power. Bolton said on Thursday, “The Maduro regime has used this sector as a bastion to finance illicit activities, to fill its coffers, and to support criminal groups.”
Venezuela this year turned to gold as a way to receive desperately-needed hard currency, exporting 23.62 tonnes of gold worth $900 million to Turkey in the first nine months of the year, compared with zero in the same period last year, official Turkish data showed. In 2016, Maduro declared war on illegal miners and declared gold a strategic priority in an effort to spur production in the so-called “Mining Arc” to create an alternative source of revenue for the oil-dependent economy.
Although Trump spoke early in his presidency of a “possible military option” for Venezuela, on Thursday Bolton dismissed the idea, stating, “I don’t see that happening in part because I am very firmly of the view that as the sanctions torque up, the pressure will become unbearable.”