The Cuban government has formally accused the U.S. government of carrying out “unconventional illicit actions” for the sanctions issued on Tuesday against six oil tankers of the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) that transported oil to the island.

“I denounce new unconventional illegal actions by the U.S. government aimed at depriving Cuba of its oil supply,” wrote the country’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, in his official Twitter account.

The Cuban foreign minister considered that the measures announced by the U.S. Treasury Department are “threatening and punishing gangsteristic practices against legitimate commercial relations between sovereign states”.

Washington considered that the transport of crude oil from Venezuela to Cuba is a violation of the oil embargo imposed by the United States against the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

“Cuba and Maduro’s former regime continue to try to evade sanctions by changing ship names and facilitating the movement of oil from Venezuela to Cuba,” Treasury Assistant Secretary Justin Muzinich said in a statement.

According to Donald Trump’s administration, the ships left Venezuela in the fall of 2019 and delivered nearly 1.3 million barrels of crude oil to the state-owned Cubametales.

The Treasury said the measure seeks to highlight “the corrupt mechanisms used to transfer oil to the Cuban regime in response to intelligence and security assistance, one of the remaining sources of support for the old and illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela”.

Last week the U.S. government announced sanctions against the Pan American Corporation – based in Havana – accused of being used by the state-owned company Cubametales as an intermediary for the purchase of Venezuelan oil.

President Trump’s government imposed sanctions in July on Cubametales, the company responsible for guaranteeing total fuel imports and exports to and from Cuba, whose main supplier is Venezuela.

In recent months the U.S. has applied new sanctions against the island that have impacted harshly on the Cuban economy in retaliation for Cuba’s alleged interference in the Venezuelan crisis and its unwavering support for President Nicolas Maduro.

Since arriving at the White House in January 2017, President Donald Trump has tightened policy toward Cuba with reductions in diplomatic personnel, an increase in the trade embargo, restrictions on cruise ships, and limits on U.S. travel to the island.

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