On March 1st, the US Treasury Department targeted 6 six security officials loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, for blocking the humanitarian aid from entering Venezuela.
Treasury targets six security officials loyal to Maduro as humanitarian aid destined for sick and starving Venezuelans is obstructed by border blockades. https://t.co/VcoIOAYtjZ
— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) March 1, 2019
“Former President Nicolas Maduro’s border blockades of trucks and ships loaded with humanitarian aid are the latest example of his illegitimate regime weaponizing the delivery of food and critically needed supplies in order to control vulnerable Venezuelans. We are sanctioning members of Maduro’s security forces in response to the reprehensible violence, tragic deaths, and unconscionable torching of food and medicine destined for sick and starving Venezuelans,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States strongly supports the efforts of Interim President Juan Guaidó, and Treasury will continue to target Maduro loyalists prolonging the suffering of the victims of this man-made humanitarian crisis.”
The sanctioned individuals are as follows:
- Richard Jesus Lopez Vargas, a Major General and the Commanding General of the Venezuelan National Guard, or the Guardia Nacional Bolivariana, commonly referred to as the GNB, as well as a member of the High Command of the GNB;
- Jesus Maria Mantilla Oliveros, a Major General and the Commander of Strategic Integral Defense Region Guayana, or the Región Estratégica de Defensa Integral Guayana, commonly referred to as REDI Guayana;
- Alberto Mirtiliano Bermudez Valderrey, the Division General for the Integral Defense Zone in Bolivar State, or Zona Operativa de Defensa Integral del estado Bolivar, commonly referenced to as ZODI Bolivar State, bordering on Brazil;
- Jose Leonardo Norono Torres, the Chief Commissioner of the FAES in Tachira State. Additionally, Dominguez was the Director of Operations of the FAES. Worryingly he was quoted saying that the purposes of FAES “was to fulfill the function of eradicating organized criminal mafias engaged in smuggling and extortion, and that the most important focus of the FAES is to fight paramilitary groups at the border, who attack the population and encourage economic warfare. Despite that they allegedly target protesters and opposition supporters to quell protests;
- Cristhiam Abelardo Morales Zambrano, the Director of the PNB and a Colonel within GNB. In early 2018, as the Regional Chief of the PNB in Tachira State, Morales was responsible for the escape of several convicts imprisoned in a PNB building in Tachira State.
As per standard sanction procedure all their assets in the US are frozen and citizens are generally prohibited from any sort of dealings with the sanctioned individuals and entities.
These sanctions follow the targeting of 4 Venezuelan governors loyal to Maduro on February 25th.
Treasury targets Governors of 4 Venezuelan States aligned w/ former President Maduro. These officials are involved in corruption & blocking the delivery of critical humanitarian aid, exacerbating the ongoing humanitarian crisis. https://t.co/OUXjQ4gTZz
— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) February 25, 2019
On February 28th, the US State Department announced that the visas of 49 Venezuelan individuals were revoked.
“Maduro supporters that abuse or violate human rights, steal from the Venezuelan people, or undermine Venezuela’s democracy are not welcome in the United States. Neither are their family members who enjoy a privileged lifestyle at the expense of the liberty and prosperity of millions of Venezuelans.”
On February 28, the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on 49 Maduro-aligned individuals responsible for undermining #Venezuela’s democracy. Those who abuse or violate human rights, steal from the Venezuelan people, or undermine Venezuela’s democracy are not welcome in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/4FLglclvUP
— Robert Palladino (@StateDeputySPOX) March 2, 2019
On March 1st, USAID announced it was pre-positioning its humanitarian aid in Colombia.
NOW ON THE 🗺️: @USAID is pre-positioning relief supplies for the people of #Venezuela in neighboring #Colombia. Check out our updated #StoryMap to see where supplies are stockpiled & learn more about U.S. assistance to Venezuelans throughout the region. https://t.co/kxZ2lBV59Z pic.twitter.com/FY0SoRxaYC
— USAID/OFDA (@theOFDA) March 1, 2019
Present is an interactive map that provides necessary information to receive aid, plus it presents the opportunity to learn more about US assistance to Venezuelans in the region. It has no information about wire and nails that were found in the truck burned on February 23rd.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez visited Moscow and met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on March 1st.
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) March 1, 2019
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was stepping up shipments of wheat and was considering sending more medical supplies after shipping 7.5 tonnes worth.
“We are very closely cooperating and coordinating all our steps in the international arena,” Lavrov said. “This has acquired special significance now that Venezuela is facing a frontal attack and unabashed interference in its domestic affairs,” he added.
US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliot Abrams warned that the Russian aid may be used as a “political weapon” by Maduro’s government, giving it only to supporters.
“Obviously we are in favor of giving humanitarian assistance to Venezuela; we are not in favor of giving it to this corrupt regime,” Abrams told reporters in Washington.
Lavrov voiced hope that international pressure would “cool hotheads in Washington” who he said are seeking military intervention in Venezuela.
He alleged that the United States was planning to buy small arms, mortar launchers, and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles from an “Eastern European country” and station them “close to Venezuela.”
Delcy Rodriguez also announced that Maduro ordered the relocation of the European headquarters of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) from Lisbon to Moscow.
“Europe does not offer guarantees of respect for our assets. President Nicolas Maduro has instructed that the PDVSA office in Europe, which is located in Lisbon, be transferred to Moscow,” Rodriguez said. “The capitalist world violates its own laws.”
Venezuela will also expand its energy cooperation with Russian oil companies such as Rosneft and Gazprom. According to Rodriguez, the Venezuelan authorities “have no doubt” that these announcements are made at the right moment.
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