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Great Satan US slaps more sanctions against Venezuela

8 May 2018 14:19

The administration of US President Donald Trump has slapped more sanctions against a number of Venezuelan companies and officials, accusing them of trafficking narcotics.

The new bans target a total of 20 companies — 16 of them based in Venezuela, and four operating from Panama — as well as three Venezuelan nationals, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

“We will deny corrupt Venezuelan regime officials access to the US financial system as we work with international partners to support the Venezuelan people in restoration of democracy and a return to prosperity,” said Mnuchin, as he announced the measures.

Mnuchin accused Luis Martin Olivares, former chief of financial intelligence for Venezuela’s National Directorate of Intelligence, of being a “significant foreign narcotics trafficker” and said the sanctions specifically targeted him.

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Washington claims Martin helped move cocaine and other drugs through Venezuela by paying off officials on the border with Colombia. He is also accused of accepting bribes from drug traffickers in both countries.

In 2015, a US grand jury in Florida indicted Martin for conspiring to distribute drugs in across America.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also designated Martin’s alleged partner Walter Alexander Del Nogal Marquez and associate Mario Antonio Rodriguez Espinoza for supporting international narcotics trafficking.

The companies targeted were owned or controlled by the three men, according to the AFP.

Washington has already put in place sanctions against Caracas and top Venezuelan government officials, as well as other measures to further weaken the country’s troubled economy and prevent the government and its state oil company from accessing international credit through US markets or entities.

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Maduro says the opposition is incited by the United States to topple his socialist government. He has registered his candidacy in country’s upcoming presidential election on May 20 and plans to run for a second six-year term.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence urged Maduro on Monday to suspend what he called was a “sham” election.

Maduro said in response that he would not take advice from “imperialists.”

“Venezuela, rain or shine, will be holding presidential elections on Sunday May 20,” Maduro said to cheering supporters at Caracas forum.

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