Trump administration approved CIA terrorist ops in Venezuela: Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says the US President Donald Trump administration has approved “covert and terrorist operations” by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Latin American country.

“They (American officials) have given the CIA the green light to come with direct agents to [conduct] covert and terrorist operations against oil, electricity, military, electoral targets, and other dirty covert actions like those used by the CIA,” Maduro said in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday.

He said the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was an accomplice in Washington’s efforts to overthrow the leftist Venezuelan government.

“It (the US administration) has placed the DEA as the operator agency of the attack against Venezuela, what is new today is not that the DEA is involved with the Colombian drug trafficking group to attack Venezuela, the new thing is that they have approved that the CIA get involved in operations… terrorist attacks against Venezuela,” he added.

Earlier this month, Maduro announced the capture of a US spy near Venezuela’s largest oil refinery, who was in possession of “heavy, specialized weapons and a large amount of cash.”

The Venezuelan president noted that the spy, arrested in Falcón State, had been a communications operator at a CIA base in Iraq for a decade ending in 2016.

Separately on Tuesday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on several Venezuelan lawmakers for supporting Maduro and for what he called participation in the rigging of upcoming elections in December.

Miguel Ponente, Guillermo Luces, Bernabe Gutierrez, and Chaim Bucaran, the leaders of four main Venezuelan opposition parties, were blacklisted by the US Treasury after deciding not to boycott the upcoming elections.

The Treasury also imposed sanctions on Williams Benavides, the head of the Tupamaro leftist movement that supports Maduro.

The sanctions freeze any assets of the individuals in the US and ban American firms from doing business with them.

In his national address, Maduro slammed the sanctions on the Venezuelan lawmakers, and compared the Trump administration to “a mafia” that forces other countries to give in to its demands by force and through military “threats, extortion, blackmail, and aggressions.”

Relations between the US and Venezuela have deteriorated under the Trump administration. Washington has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company to pressure Maduro to resign, and has supported a putschist opposition figure.

Also on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared new sanctions targeting President Maduro, over allegations that he had flouted a UN arms embargo on Iran.

Caracas responded by denouncing Washington’s new act of “aggression” and insisted that such “arrogant” moves will fall short of blocking the country’s endeavors to forge economic partnerships with allies, including Iran.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “no intimidating and arrogant action by the US government will prevent it from exercising its sovereign right to establish economic and commercial relations freely with the Islamic Republic of Iran and with any State.”

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