Reports indicate that on November 1 the Trump administration authorized sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela. During a speech in Miami’s Freedom Tower, White House national-security adviser John Bolton announced that the U.S. State Department added more than two dozen entities controlled by the Cuban security services to a sanction list. Bolton described Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua as “the troika of tyranny” in the Western hemisphere, further suggesting that the U.S. could potentially enact sanctions against the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. In turn, President Donald Trump reportedly issued an executive order expanding sanctions against Venezuela, specifically targeting the gold industry. American citizens and corporations will therefore be banned from establishing connections or business ties with sanctioned Cuban entities and companies involved in Venezuela’s gold sector.
The aforementioned measures were likely triggered by both domestic and foreign policy considerations. Bearing in mind midterm elections are slated for November 6, Bolton’s speech in Miami likely represents an attempt to appeal to the sizable Cuban electorate in Florida, which is known for holding strong anti-communist sentiments, thereby opposing the rapprochement strategy with Habana pursued by the previous Democrat administration. In terms of foreign policy, the sanctions likely come as a result of Cuban efforts to bolster the internal stability of the Venezuelan government. Finally, sanctions against Venezuela will continue to undermine the country’s finances. Venezuela began exporting gold to Turkey earlier this year in an attempt to find new markets and partners unlikely to be influenced by U.S. policy interests, especially as oil production in the country falters.