The Maduro government reacted today to the latest round of sanctions from Washington, which were levied yesterday against the state-owned Conviasa airline.
Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a notice stating that it was placing sanctions against Conviasa and forty of its aircraft. According to the notice, the sanctions were levied because regime officials have been known to use Conviasa aircraft for personal trips. The sanction notice reads:
“The illegitimate Maduro regime relies on the Venezuelan state-owned airline CONVIASA to shuttle corrupt regime officials around the world to fuel support for its anti-democratic efforts,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The Trump Administration will not allow Maduro and his proxies to continue stealing from the Venezuelan people and abusing state-owned assets to advance their own corrupt and destabilizing activities.”
The sanctions affect forty aircraft registered to Conviasa. However, only three of those forty are known to be in the personal use of Maduro and other regime officials. They are:
- YV2984 [Airbus A3190133(CJ)]
- YV3016 ([Embraer Lineage 1000]
- YV3434 [Boeing 737-200]
The sanctions also affect airliners that are used for Conviasa’s commercial flights and not by regime officials. The Treasury Department maintains that the sanctions will not affect Venezuelans, however, because they can simply choose to fly with another airline:
This action does not prevent the ability of the Venezuelan people to travel, as they can continue to travel on various other carriers not subject to OFAC sanctions.
Given the general state of the economy in Venezuela and in particular that of the airline industry, Venezuelans do not have many choices when it comes to air travel. Conviasa is by far the largest Venezuelan air line both in fleet size and in destinations served.
Tarek El Aissami, the vice president of economic affairs, called the sanctions “a great mistake” by the Trump administration and said that the Maduro government would take the issue to unspecified international instances. El Aissami also called the sanctions “arbitrary… and illegal”, and blamed the opposition for bringing them about.
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