US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that Cuban former President Raul Castro and members of his family will not be allowed to enter the United States.

“Raul Castro oversees a system that arbitrarily detains thousands of Cubans and currently holds more than 100 political prisoners,” Pompeo said at United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday, Efe news reported.

He said that it is in response to “gross human rights abuses” in Cuba and supporting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro in his crackdown on the opposition.

“As First Secretary of Cuba’s Armed Forces, Castro is responsible for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation, and repression,” Pompeo said.

Washington, which recognizes National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s acting president said that twice-elected leftist incumbent Nicolas Maduro is a dictator.

Castro is no longer president of Cuba but remains at the top of the Cuban Communist Party, which Pompeo said that is guilty of arbitrarily detaining thousands of people, including more than 100 political prisoners

President Donald Trump’s administration says that Cuba has soldiers and intelligence operatives are on the ground in Venezuela, something that Havana flatly denies, while the nearly 500,000-strong Venezuelan armed forces remain loyal to the Maduro government.

The travel ban applies to Raul Castro and to his four children: Alejandro, Deborah, Nilsa and Mariela.

Mariela Castro, an LGBT rights activist who runs the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education, visited the US in 2012 and 2013 to take part in conferences.

Pompeo imposed the sanction on Castro a day after Trump, meeting at the UN with the leaders of pro-US Latin American governments, said: “Maduro has sold out his nation to a foreign dictatorship.”

(With IANS inputs)