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The Trump administration is considering adding Venezuela to its list of countries sponsoring terrorism in the latest pressure increase on Caracas, Reuters reports, citing a person familiar with the discussions.
However, proving this could be difficult, a government official who declined to be named in the Reuters report, said. The discussions were the result of the efforts of Senator Marco Rubio who has for a while now insisted that Washington increase the pressure on Caracas, despite evidence that this sort of pressure is not working as intended, with the Maduro government remaining in place despite a string of sanctions.
If the White House decides to go through with the inclusion in the list, which currently contains four countries—Syria, North Korea, Iran, and Sudan—it will make life even more difficult for Venezuelans already suffering from hyperinflation and shortage of basic goods that have spurred an exodus to neighboring countries.
If the country is added to the list of sponsors of terrorism, chances are its population will once again bear the brunt of geopolitical conflict: U.S. economic assistance would be curbed and further financial restrictions will be added to already existing ones.
According to Reuters, Rubio and another two Republican senators wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo two months ago, urging him to include Venezuela in the terrorism sponsors list on the grounds that it had been providing funding to Hezbollah in Lebanon and FARC in Colombia. However, the senators did not provide proof for their accusations.
The Washington Post, which first broke the news, quoted an expert from the Washington Office on Latin America, senior fellow David Smilde, as saying “I suspect this will be based on hearsay and sources of questionable integrity.”
Reuters quoted a spokesperson for the State Department as saying the department “consistently and on an ongoing basis reviews available information and intelligence, from many sources, on possible state-level involvement in terrorism, evaluating all credible, verified, and corroborated information in its entirety.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.