The US treasury department yesterday announced new sanctions on Venezuelan intelligence and other officials close to President Nicolas Maduro.
“The US department of the treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed sanctions on five officials aligned with illegitimate former president Nicolas Maduro, who continue to repress democracy and democratic actors in Venezuela and engage in significant corruption and fraud against the people of Venezuela,” the department said in a statement.
The five were named as Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, head of the intelligence service Sebin; its first commissioner Hildemaro Jose Rodriguez Mucura; military counter-intelligence commander Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala; police special actions force director Rafael Enrique Bastardo Mendoza and the president of the state-owned oil company PDVSA, Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez.
“(All) properties and interests in property of these individuals, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by such individuals, that are in the US or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked,” according to the statement.
“We are sanctioning officials in charge of Maduro’s security and intelligence apparatus, which has systematically violated human rights,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted as saying.
“We are intent on going after those facilitating Maduro’s corruption and predation, including by sanctioning the president of PDVSA and others of diverting assets that rightfully belong to the people of Venezuela,” he added.
The US recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president three weeks ago.
He has won the recognition of dozens of countries, while Maduro tries to cling to power with the support of allies including China and Russia.
The US yesterday also scoffed Venezuela’s accusation that it was poisoning humanitarian aid, and urged allies to stop the “decrepit, dictatorial regime” of President Nicolas Maduro from chairing UN arms talks.
US envoy Robert Wood was speaking to the Conference on Disarmament hosted by the United Nations in Geneva that Maduro’s now widely-rejected government is due to chair from May 27.
“I’m taking the floor to put on the record my government’s strong opposition to a representative of the former Maduro regime occupying the seat reserved for Venezuela,” he said.
“In order to preserve the integrity, dignity and respect for this chamber, Maduro representatives must vacate the chair reserved for the government of Venezuela,” he said.
On Tuesday, Venezuela Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said the US was trying to send contaminated and carcinogenic aid into Venezuela, where the economy is in collapse and millions are facing hunger and shortages.
“Various scientific studies have shown that this so-called food from the US aims to poison our population with chemicals. We could say that this humanitarian aid is a biological weapon,” she told a news conference.
Wood said Maduro’s government would go to any length to lie and deny reality.
“It even made one of the most outrageous charges the international community has heard in decades: that the US is sending in biological weapons as part of humanitarian assistance we have provided.
Biological weapons? Really?”
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