The US government first declared a general trade embargo against Cuba in 1960. These sanctions forbid trade and financial transactions between US persons and any Cuban citizens or third-parties on their behalf, travel to Cuba by US persons, and travel to the US by Cuban government or military officials, except where permitted by special licence. In 2015, President Barack Obama lifted the licence requirement for certain kinds of trade, financial transactions, and travel between Cuba and the US. However, stricter requirements on trade, travel, and financial transactions with some Cuban entities were re-imposed in 2017 by President Trump, who also expanded the list of Cuban officials not allowed to enter the US.
In November 2018, President Trump issued an order blocking all property subject to US regulation belonging to two high-ranking Nicaraguan government officials in response to human rights violations and undermining of democracy in Nicaragua. Four other Nicaraguan officials had their property blocked and were forbidden from travelling to the US under a different sanctions programme for involvement in serious human rights abuse or corruption.
Venezuela is subject to sanctions imposed by the US, Canada, the European Union and twenty two other countries and overseas territories which adhere to the EU’s sanctions. Sanctions on Venezuela were first imposed in 2015 by the US in response to perceived human rights abuses and the arrest of political opponents and critics by the Venezuelan government, led by president Nicolás Maduro.
President Maduro was elected for a second six-year term in May 2018 in contentious circumstances. The legitimacy of his government was contested by Juan Guaidó, leader of the opposition and president of Venezuela’s national assembly, who declared himself interim president in January 2019. The impasse has triggered local street protests and clashes between demonstrators and local security forces, which have reportedly led to civilian casualties. Key regional players, such as the US and Brazil, have officially recognised Guaidó’s government, while Russia has supported Maduro. In January 2019, the US imposed new sanctions on PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, the Venezuelan gold sector and cryptocurrency sector as well as some current and former Venezuelan government officials.