The White House released an updated travel ban including Venezuela yesterday in the form of an executive order from Trump’s desk. The order, which was announced in the evening, prohibits entry to the United States in varying degrees for citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela.
While the order outright bans every Syrian and North Korean citizen from entry to into the United States, the stance on Venezuela is less harsh. According to the order, only Venezuelan citizens who work for the Maduro regime specifically in positions were they are involved in “screening and vetting procedures” for granting travel documents like visas are passports are banned from entering the United States, as are their “immediate family members”.
The ban for Venezuelan officials and their relatives only includes non-immigrants travelling on the following visas:
- Business (B-1)
- Tourist (B-2)
- Business/Tourist (B1-B2)
According to the executive order, the reason for the ban comes from the fact that the United States government is not able to guarantee that Venezuelan individuals who receive passports, visas and other travel documents from the Maduro regime are submitted to adequate security and background checks. The order states:
Venezuela’s government fails to share public-safety and terrorism-related information adequately, fails to satisfy at least one key risk criterion, and has been assessed to be not fully cooperative with respect to receiving its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States.
This is not the first time that the Venezuelan government’s ability to properly regulate the issuing of travel documents has been called into question.
Back in February, CNN en Español published an expose in which it alleged that the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad was selling passports to anyone who could afford them at $10,000-$15,000 per document.
In November of 2015, two of Maduro’s nephews were arrested by DEA agents in Haiti for attempting to smuggle cocaine into the United States. The two were travelling on diplomatic passports, even though neither of them was a diplomat.
The same executive order also states that Venezuelan citizens who are not banned from travelling into the US will be “subject to appropriate additional measures” to ensure that their travel documents are accurate. It is not yet clear what these additional measures might be.
Regime Calls Travel Ban “Irrational”
The Maduro regime reacted to the news of the US travel ban today by issuing a formal statement through the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The statement attempts to suggest that the travel ban has been applied to all Venezuelan citizens, when in fact it only applies to a specific set of regime officials.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela categorically rejects the irrational decision by the Government of the United States of America to once again categorize the noble people of Venezuela has a threat to its national security.
The same statement also hints that the US’ “imperialist actions” might be met with a reciprocal measure from Caracas.
Vice President Tareck El Aissami reacted to the travel ban by calling it “a trophy” because he considers the measure evidence that Washington is disturbed by the success of the Bolivarian Revolution. El Aissami said:
Let the Yankee empire sanction those of us who are revolutionaries. We take [the travel ban] (…) as the best acknowledgement of our historic struggle. Let the empire sanction us, because that is an honour for us.
El Aissami made the comments during the inauguration ceremony fora hotel in Caracas, during which he also called Trump “arrogant” and “conceited”.
Aeropostal Ceases Operations After 88 Years
Aeropostal ceased all operations “until further notice” in a move that likely signals the end of the airline. The airline announced the measure to its employees on Friday. An Aeropostal worker told La Verdad:
[Today], all ground personnel and mechanics have to stay in the hangars. We don’t know what will happen once operations cease. We are all feeling uncertainty.
Another worker confirmed to the newspaper that the company has not told workers “what their future will be” now that the company is defunct.
El Universal reports that Aeropostal was forced to end operations since its only operational airplane is no longer able to fly.
Once an icon of national pride, Aeropostal has operated in Venezuela since 1929. It was purchased by the Venezuelan government from its private owners in 1933, and ceased operations in 1994 as part of the Caldera government’s search for savings. It returned as a privately-owned company in 1997, and was again taken over by the government in 2011.
Protesters Clash with National Guard in Chacao
For the first time in nearly two months, protesters clashed with National Guard soldiers in the streets of Caracas, as a group of approximately 100 young chamos de la resistencia [roughly, “resistance youth”] set up barricades in the Chacao neighbourhood of Caracas.
The barricades were erected during an unannounced protest on the Francisco de Miranda avenue which started at around 2:00 PM. The young protesters, most of them hooded, congregated in the area for a while before blocking traffic through the area with garbage cans and other rubble.
The short video below shows a group of protesters attempting to block the Francisco de Miranda avenue:
Below, images of the protesters:
Protesters threw Molotov cocktails at the soldiers, who responded with rubber pellets:
The impromptu protest forced the closure of the Chacao subway station, and resulted in the arrest of at least three demonstrators.
The videos below show National Guard soldiers arresting protesters:
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