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Cuba Announces Rationing Of Food And Hygiene Products Amid US Sanctions

MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – The Trump Administration is being blamed for new food rations in Cuba.

Cuba announced new rationing of food and basic cleaning and hygiene products as the communist-run island grapples with increased US sanctions, as well as the economic crisis affecting its close ally Venezuela.

Cubans will face "regulations" on the purchase of chicken, eggs, sausages, and cleaning and hygiene products, the state-run website Cubadebate reported Friday. For weeks, Cubans have complained of empty store shelves and fights have broken out in state-run markets when chicken and other hard-to-find items go on sale.

The government blames the shortage on the hardline taken by the Trump administration on the island's government for its support of the regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. The supply of oil coming from Venezuela to Cuba has been waning in recent months as the Maduro government deals with US sanctions and an imploding economy.

The Trump administration announced the new sanctions in April against what US National Security Adviser John Bolton calls the "troika of tyranny": Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Part of the sanctions includes the enforcement of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, or Libertad Act. Title III is a provision of the decades-old trade embargo on Cuba that allows US citizens to file lawsuits in US federal court against businesses that operate on property seized by the Cuban government during the revolution.

The Trump administration is the first to enforce the provision since the law's creation in 1996. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the provision would go into effect May 2. The first lawsuits were filed the same day.

"Implementing Title III in full means a chance at justice for Cuban Americans who have long sought relief from Fidel Castro and his lackeys seizing property without compensation," Pompeo said in remarks at the State Department.

The provision was met with opposition from Canadian and European Union allies, whose businesses have billions of dollars of investments in Cuba.

The move was announced along with restrictions on Cuban visas and travel as well as new sanctions on Nicaragua and Venezuela as part of the administration's attempt to put pressure on Maduro's regime in Venezuela and the countries they see as sustaining it.

"At this moment, Havana continues to prop up Maduro and help him sustain the brutal suffering of the Venezuelan people," Bolton said in April. "As President Trump has said, Maduro is quite simply a Cuban puppet."

Maduro took Hugo Chavez's place as president of Venezuela after his death in 2013. He was sworn in for his second term in January, but most democratic countries in the region -- including the US -- refused to recognize him as President, favoring his opposition Juan Guaidó.

(©2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)


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