US places ban on Cuban defense chief


Washington (AFP)

The State Department announced Thursday it was barring Cuba's defense chief from entering the US, citing what it called human rights violations in supporting the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The department said General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (MINFAR), "bears responsibility for Cuba's actions to prop up" Maduro's leftist regime.

"Alongside Maduro's military and intelligence officers, MINFAR has been involved in gross human rights violations and abuses in Venezuela, including torturing or subjecting Venezuelans to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment for their anti-Maduro stances," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"Dismantling Venezuela's democracy by terrifying Venezuelans into submission is the goal of MINFAR and the Cuban regime," he said.

The announcement bans Cintra Frias and two of his children, Deborah Cintra Gonzalez and Leopoldo Cintra Gonzalez, from entering the United States.

The United States is one of more than 50 countries which have recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim leader of Venezuela. But Cuba, as well as Russia and China, continues to support the embattled Maduro.