US Penalizes Venezuelan Ex-Official for Alleged Drug Trafficking

US Penalizes Venezuelan Ex-Official for Alleged Drug Trafficking

The measures include personal sanctions on three Venezuelan officials as well as 20 companies with ties to the Maduro regime's alleged drug trafficking operations.

Mr Maduro, the USA vice president said in a speech to the Organisation of American States, "promised people he would restore prosperity but delivered only deep poverty".

Pence also dismissed the country's upcoming presidential elections, which Maduro is widely expected to "win", having banned most opposition candidates from running and relying on his regime's sophisticated use of voter fraud systems.

She said the May 20 elections, in which Maduro is seeking re-election, would be fraudulent if independent observers were absent.

Pence said the United States has already sanctioned more than 50 current and former senior Venezuelan officials and cut off the so-called "petro" digital currency from the U.S. banking system. "There is zero possibility that elections will be suspended", said Samuel Moncada, Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations, condemning Pence's speech.

The U.S. joins the European Union in calling on Venezuela to postpone the May 20 election until there are better assurances that it will be a free and fair democratic contest. Maduro asked a crowd in a rally on Tuesday in southern Amazonas state, condemning the USA president and vice president for sanctions on his government.

Pence urged other OAS member countries to help the United States increase pressure on the Maduro regime by cutting off "Venezuela's corrupt leaders from laundering money through your financial systems" and by enacting visa restrictions to block their travel.

In August, the administration froze assets of eight current and former Venezuelan officials, including Adan Chavez, brother of the late president Hugo Chavez, and Hermann Escarra, a constitutional adviser to Maduro.

"Systemic corruption and a collapse in the rule of law are defining features of Venezuela's government", U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Monday. The Venezuelan government has said that it fears sectors of the right-wing opposition will carry out violent attacks on election day with the foreign assistance. It is the third-largest source of US imported oil.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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