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BANGKOK 23 March 2019 11:13
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U.S. raises pressure on Maduro via sanctions, aid airlift

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U.S. raises pressure on Maduro via sanctions, aid airlift

By Andy Sullivan and Idrees Ali

 

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FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a copy of the Venezuelan constitution while he speaks during a meeting with members of the Venezuelan diplomatic corp after their arrival from the United States, at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela January 28, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

 

WASHINGTON/MUNICH (Reuters) - The United States ratcheted up pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday by sanctioning some of his top security officials and the head of the state oil company, and unveiling plans to airlift over 200 tons of aid to the Colombian border.

 

The U.S. Treasury said it sanctioned PDVSA chief Manuel Quevedo, three top intelligence officials and Rafael Bastardo, who U.S. officials say is the head of a national police unit responsible for dozens of extrajudicial killings carried out in nighttime raids on Maduro's behalf.

 

Separately, a U.S. official said U.S. military aircraft are expected to deliver more than 200 tons of humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan border in Colombia, with the shipment likely to take place on Saturday.

 

The steps are part of a wider effort by the United States to undermine Maduro, whose 2018 election it views as illegitimate and whose government it has disavowed, and to strengthen opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido.

 

U.S. military aircraft are likely to deliver the aid to the Colombian side of the border with Venezuela on Saturday, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding the State Department planned to make an announcement on Friday.

 

Another U.S. government source who asked not to be named said the food and medicine would go to the Colombian border town of Cucuta.

 

A State Department spokeswoman did not address whether there would be an aid delivery on Saturday but noted the United States had pre-positioned relief supplies in Colombia last week and was coordinating with Guaido to mobilize aid for Venezuelans.

 

However, it was unclear if any of it would reach Venezuelans.

 

Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse in the oil-rich country that has left millions struggling to buy food and medicine and fuelled an unprecedented migration crisis in the region, has refused to allow supplies in.

 

An aid convoy dispatched by the United States and Colombia arrived in Cucuta last week, where it is being held in warehouses.

 

"This man Maduro has created a humanitarian crisis," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Reykjavik.

"As soon as this weekend we will continue to deliver massive humanitarian assistance. Hopefully Mr. Maduro will allow that in to his country.”

 

Guaido invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself interim president last month, arguing that Maduro's 2018 re-election was a sham. Most Western countries, including the United States and many of Venezuela's neighbours, have recognised Guaido as the legitimate head of state.

 

Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions including the military.

 

The U.S. Treasury took aim at some of Maduro's allies with its sanctions on Friday.

 

"We are sanctioning officials in charge of Maduro's security and intelligence apparatus, which has systematically violated human rights and suppressed democracy, including through torture," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

 

Also targeted was Ivan Hernandez, commander of Maduro's Presidential Guard, which Treasury says has tortured Maduro's opponents and carried out other human rights abuses.

 

Manuel Cristopher, director general of Venezuela's Sebin intelligence agency, and Hildemaro Rodriguez, first commissioner of the service, also were sanctioned.

 

The Treasury's action freezes all property in the United States belonging to the five sanctioned officials as well as that of any entities in which they own 50 percent or more.

 

In a sign that the Trump administration may be trying to split the men from Maduro, the Treasury Department noted in its statement that "U.S. sanctions need not be permanent; sanctions are intended to bring about a positive change of behaviour."

 

"The United States has made clear that we will consider lifting sanctions for persons ... who take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order, refuse to take part in human rights abuses, speak out against abuses committed by the government, and combat corruption in Venezuela," it said.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-02-16

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This is the exact same interference the CIA did when they backed a coup to remove Chavez. Chavez was back in power within 48 hours. I wish the US would stop meddling in other countries' affairs in the name of "human rights" when we all know it's for control of the largest oil fields on earth.

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4 hours ago, quandow said:

This is the exact same interference the CIA did when they backed a coup to remove Chavez. Chavez was back in power within 48 hours. I wish the US would stop meddling in other countries' affairs in the name of "human rights" when we all know it's for control of the largest oil fields on earth.

Except the US never gains control over the oil.   It didn't in Iraq either.   It does get the situation to the point where the oil keeps flowing.   

 

I also wish they wouldn't interfere, but if they are, then a little more control of those reserves would be fine.   As it is, we invade, fight, kill, spend a lot of money, and countries like Russia go in and take advantage of the situation to develop the oil fields.   Northern Iraq is heavily dominated by the Russians, just as one example.

 

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10 hours ago, Credo said:

Except the US never gains control over the oil.   It didn't in Iraq either.   It does get the situation to the point where the oil keeps flowing.   

And time after time enemies of the US explain THIS is what's angering them to the point of "terrorism." Most people aren't old enough to remember the war crimes the US did to North Korea. NORTH KOREA doesn't! They're not about to give up their nukes to appease the US.

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