U.S. sanctions 3 Venezuelans, calls for election suspension

- Mei 07, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence announced new sanctions on three Venezuelans on Monday, designating them as “narcotics kingpins” and restricting their financial and travel access in a swipe at the country’s authoritarian government.

Speaking in Washington to the Organization of American States, Pence also called for Venezuela to delay its upcoming presidential election — and for the organization to suspend Venezuela from its membership.

Pence said the Trump administration had targeted “three Venezuelans with direct ties to the [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro regime” by freezing their assets and blocking their access to the U.S., “so they can no longer poison our people with their deadly drugs.”

The Treasury Department identified the individuals as Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, a former top official at Venezuela’s National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services, and associates Walter Alexander Del Nogal Marquez and Mario Antonio Rodriguez Espinoza. It also designated 20 companies with ties to the three men in Venezuela and Panama.

The U.S. had previously sanctioned dozens of other Venezuelan officials.

Maduro has presided over a spiraling economic downturn and hyperinflation crisis, triggering widespread hunger and migration. And his increasingly repressive government came down hard on protests last summer, with the Associated Press’ count of the death toll surpassing 100.


International observers have condemned an upcoming May 20 presidential election as unfree, and most of Venezuela’s opposition is boycotting the vote. But Maduro will face Henri Falcón, a former governor.

“There will be no real election in Venezuela on May 20, and the world knows it. It will be a fake election with a fake outcome,” Pence said. “Suspend this sham election. Hold real elections. Give the people of Venezuela real choices — because the Venezuelan people deserve to live in democracy once again.”

The vice president also urged other OAS states to impose money and travel restrictions on Venezuelan leaders.

And he blamed Maduro for limiting access to humanitarian aid despite severe shortages of food and medical supplies. “The United States … stands ready to do more, much more, to directly support the Venezuelan people,” Pence said.

Pence also demanded that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights be allowed to investigate in Nicaragua, where major protests have turned deadly and threatened President Daniel Ortega’s grip on power in recent weeks.


 

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