Spanish – On Monday, the United States imposed a harsh penalty on a Chinese company that serves the interests of the Venezuelan dictatorship. The strike was accurate. The immediate reaction of the Venezuelan regime shows it. The company is the China Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC), through which Nicolás Maduro censors information that is not favorable to him and restricts the internet to Venezuelans.
“The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated CEIEC for supporting the illegitimate Maduro regime’s efforts to undermine democracy in Venezuela, including its efforts to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents,” reads the statement published by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on his Twitter account.
— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) November 30, 2020
According to the document, Chinese technology companies, including CEIEC, “continue to challenge democratic values of freedom and transparency by developing and exporting tools to monitor, censor, and surveil citizens’ activities on the internet.”
How does CEIEC operate?
CEIEC was founded in 1980 to build “far-reaching cooperative relationships” in the context of China’s opening up, the company states on its website. It currently has 200 subsidiaries and offices around the world. In Venezuela, it began operating in 2017, supporting the “evil cyber-forces” of the regime, as highlighted by U.S. authorities.
The Chinese company offered cybernetic support to the Compañía Anónima Nacional Teléfonos de Venezuela (CANTV), which controls 70% of the internet service in the country. It also provided technical expertise to Maduro to offer advice on how to replicate in Venezuela the censorship of the communist regime.
The Treasury Department explains in the statement that the software and hardware package that CEIEC provided to Venezuela is a commercialized version of the “Great Firewall” that uses China’s censorship system to block web pages and control information coming from abroad, as well as for internal dissemination of content considered undesirable by Chinese authorities.
In this way, Maduro’s regime frequently blocks portals that have an editorial line that runs counter to the interests of the dictatorship, says the Treasury Department. It also points out that through the technology offered by this company, Miraflores censors the speeches of interim President Juan Guaidó.
The U.S. sanction provides for the blocking of all CEIEC property or property rights held by the U.S. or in the possession of Americans. Similarly, any transaction with this company is prohibited.
Regime hurt by the measure
This measure undoubtedly meant a hard blow for Nicolás Maduro since he soon issued a communiqué through his Foreign Ministry. The document describes the sanction as an “attack” that has the “inhumane objective of isolating the country and generating difficulties for the population.”
— Cancillería Venezuela 🇻🇪 (@CancilleriaVE) December 1, 2020
The dictatorship insisted on calling the sanctions “illegal” and pointed out that they demonstrate the “incessant obsession” of the United States with “destabilizing Venezuelan society.”
The regime warned that this measure represents an “attack on the functioning of public institutions.” To conclude, it stated that it will not be “intimidated” by any action, “however perverse” and that it will know how to fulfill its responsibilities.