Three US senators led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio urged the State Department to add Venezuela to the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, a designation that would expand the range of sanctions that could be applied.
In a letter sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the senators said the regime of President Nicolás Maduro has associated with organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and Hezbollah and stressed the fact that it has not taken actions to punish those officials who have been sanctioned by the US Treasury for participating in drug trafficking.
“It comes as no surprise that the Maduro dictatorship aided and abetted terrorists. After years of cooperating with FARC, ELN and other narcotraficking terrorists, Venezuela has now become a ‘narco-state’,” the senators said in the letter, dated Sept. 26.
“In fact, Tareck El Aissami, who served as Venezuela’s vice president until June 14, 2018, has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as a ‘Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker’, and two of Maduro’s nephews are currently serving 18 years in a U.S. prison for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.,” the document says.
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In addition to Rubio, the letter is signed by two other Republicans, Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Cory Gardner of Colorado.
Rubio is one of the most influential voices in Washington in the US policy on Venezuela.
The designation — currently only applied to Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria — would facilitate the application of more sanctions against the oil country. In the past, the designation has been used to cancel arms exports, limit technology sales, impose restrictions on the delivery of economic aid and financial restrictions, among other actions.