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US Sanctions More Venezuelan Officials, Plans To Airlift ‘Humanitarian Aid’ With Military Aircraft

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US Sanctions More Venezuelan Officials, Plans To Airlift 'Humanitarian Aid' With Military Aircraft

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On February 15th, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions on officials aligned with “former” President Nicolas Maduro.

“Treasury continues to target officials who have helped the illegitimate Maduro regime repress the Venezuelan people.  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 and other brutal use of force,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “We are intent on going after those facilitating Maduro’s corruption and predation, including by sanctioning the President of PdVSA and others diverting assets that rightfully belong to the people of Venezuela.”

“As a result of today’s action, all property 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 United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.  OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.”

The statement also reminds that US sanctions don’t need to be permanent, if they bring about the necessary change.

The sanctioned individuals are as follows:

  • Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala is the Commander of illegitimate former-President Maduro’s Presidential Guard;
  • Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera is the Director General of the Venezuelan National Intelligence Service, referred to as SEBIN;
  • Hildemaro Jose Rodriguez Mucura is the First Commissioner of SEBIN;
  • Rafael Enrique Bastardo Mendoza is the Commander of a Venezuelan National Police Unit commonly referred to as the Special Actions Force, or Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales (FAES);
  • Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez is the current President of Venezuelan state-owned oil company, PdVSA, which he continued to represent after it was sanctioned by the US on January 28th.

Regarding the FAES, Fox News reported that photos emerged showing the “death squad” with victims described as anti-government protesters.

According to Marino Alvarado, investigations coordinator for PROVEA, one of Venezuela’s leading human rights organizations, FAES was initially established two years ago to be an elite unit with military training to respond to extraordinary situations.

“But last year, Alvarado said, the squads targeted people in situations that hardly were extraordinary. They started pursuing and killing people linked to petty crimes. Alvarado said the squads killed 205 people.”

“Every time they got involved, it ended in a fatality,” Alvarado said to Fox News. “They massacred about four or so people every week.”

“Here was a military-level elite unit theoretically created to save lives, but the reality is that they extinguish lives,” Alvarado said. “Their mission now is to take up arms against the Venezuelan people, against those who express dissent.”

Fox News also cited experts on Venezuela regarding FAES.

“FAES is effectively one the main pillars of the Maduro regime,” said Guillermo Zubillaga, head of the Venezuela Working Group for Americas Society/Council of the Americas. “It’s one of the few remaining security forces in Venezuela willing to follow the orders they receive from Maduro. Other security forces are not following orders, knowing the rejection of Maduro by many Venezuelans. But the rule of law does not apply to FAES, they act with impunity.”

“If there’s still any doubt about whether the Maduro regime is a dictatorship, FAES should prove that it is.”

Separately, on February 15th, USAID’s Mark Green announced that more US humanitarian aid will be airlifted to Colombia and wait at the Venezuelan border.

According to reports, this newest batch will be delivered by US military planes, rather than civilian ones.

According to defense officials cited by the CNN, US Air Force C-17 aircraft will support the US State Department and the US Agency for International development, flying the aid from the continental United States to Colombia.

Pompeo noted on February 15th that that the US would continue to deliver “massive humanitarian assistance” “as soon as this weekend.”

The Acting Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Latin America and Caribbean Bureau, Steve Olive said they are in daily communication with self-declared interim President Juan Guaido and his team on avenues to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela.

“We are also committed to pre-positioning goods and supplies in other parts if that’s necessary,” Olive said. “We also are looking at scenarios of flying things in if the situation permits.”

Olive said the Maduro is not allowing access, but that they hoped to “change that scenario shortly.”

On the same day, Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said that the US pre-positioned supplies “including food, hygiene kits, and medical supplies” last week and would “continue to coordinate with President Guaidó and his team of experts, governments in the region, and our humanitarian partners to mobilize aid for the Venezuelan people.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that 933 tons of medicine arrived from Russia, China and Cuba on February 14th and that the country paid for them

US National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke to Fox News’ Gillian Turner.

In the interview he claimed that Maduro’s generals are talking to the opposition. As of the morning of February 16th there is no full video of the interview posted.

Finally, RT America correspondent Dan Cohen intercepted US Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams while he was leaving the conference in Washington DC on Venezuela.

What do you say to people who are skeptical about you because of your history of using humanitarian aid to send weapons to contras in Central America? Do you have any comment about that?” Cohen asked Abrams.

Journalists on Twitter praised Cohen, comparing his conduct to that of US MSM.

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