United States Sanctions Four Venezuelan Governors for Blocking Humanitarian Aid

Four Chavista governors are facing sanctions from the US Treasury for refusing to allow the entry of humanitarian aid (EFE).

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department has included four new officials aligned with the illegitimate regime of former President Nicolás Maduro on the list of those subject to sanctions.

These are the governors Ramón Carrizales, from Apure state; Jorge Luis García Carneiro, of Vargas; Rafael Lacava, from Carabobo, and Omar Prieto, from Zulia; who, according to the Treasury Department, are “involved in endemic corruption and blocking the delivery of critical humanitarian aid, which is exacerbating the current humanitarian crisis caused by the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro.”

“The illegitimate attempts of the Maduro regime to block international aid destined for the Venezuelan people are shameful. The Treasury is targeting four state governors aligned with former President Maduro for obstructing the humanitarian assistance that is severely needed and is prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a press release.

“The United States fully supports the efforts of interim president Juan Guaidó to address the endemic corruption, human rights abuses, and violent repression that has become the hallmark of the illegitimate regime of Maduro, and awaits the restoration of a democratically elected government for the people of Venezuela,” Mnuchin added.

These sanctions imply that all assets and interests owned by these four governors and any entity where these individuals are owners, directly or indirectly, of 50% or more and that are located in the United States, or in possession or control of Americans, will be frozen, and must be reported to the OFAC.

OFAC regulations generally prohibit said individuals from doing business with US individuals or corporations, and embargoes any property or assets belonging to the designated persons.

The Department of the Treasury, detailed the actions taken against each of the newly sanctioned governors.

Zulia: Drug trafficking, murder for hire, electricity cuts

In the case of Omar José Prieto Fernández, governor of Zulia state, the report said that his administration “is known as a center for organized crime, where drug trafficking occurs. and murder for hire is commonplace.”

“Across the state of Zulia there are sophisticated and prolific criminal structures, which have even penetrated the border police under the Prieto government; currently several border police officers, and local police units of Zulia have been investigated for their role in drug trafficking and illegal arms trafficking,” highlights the Treasury Department.

In addition, Zulia is among the states with the highest energy consumption in Venezuela, but has been experiencing a severe shortage of electricity, which has led to severe electricity rationing amid the ever worsening humanitarian crisis.

Apure: Repression

As for the governor of the western state of Apure, Ramón Alonso Carrizalez Rengifo, who also held the position of vice president of Venezuela from 2008 until the beginning of January 2010, as well as the position of Minister of Defense from 2009 until the beginning of January 2010, the United States has highlighted the brutality and repression of state security forces.

“Since January 2019, there has been a growing and massive presence of military and police forces in the streets across Apure. State security forces threaten and attack protesters with excessive force,” the report said.

In addition, Carrizalez is accused of supporting the flagrant repression of democratic actors. In 2014, the governor said the state of Apure is infested with drug trafficking gangs, and believed that the ranches along the Apure border were involved in money laundering.

Vargas: Fight in the streets for Maduro

Loyal Chavista Jorge Luis García Carneiro, has been governor of the coastal state of Vargas state since 2008. He was chief of the Venezuelan Army from January 2003 until January 2004, then became Minister of Defense until December 2006.

“As of January 2019, García rejected the position of Juan Guaidó as acting President of Venezuela. Garcia said that the people of the state of Vargas will continue the fight and will stay on the streets to show their support for former president Maduro,” the statement said.