US Sanctions Chinese Company for Conducting Business with Venezuela
Olivia Beavers / The Hill
(November 30, 2020) — The Trump administration on Monday imposed sanctions on a Chinese company, alleging that it was supporting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in undermining the country’s democracy, including restricting internet access and conducting digital surveillance of the regime’s political opponents.
The US says the company, China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC), is facing financial penalties after providing software and services to government entities, including Venezuela’s state-run telecommunications provider that controls 70 percent of the country’s internet service.
“The illegitimate Maduro regime’s reliance on entities like CEIEC to advance its authoritarian agenda further illustrates the regime’s prioritization of power over democratic values and processes,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
“The United States will not hesitate to target anyone helping to suppress the democratic will of the Venezuelan people and others around the world,” he added.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a separate statement highlighted that CEIEC has been supporting Maduro’s government since 2017.
“PRC [The People’s Republic of China] technology companies, including CEIEC, lead the world in developing and exporting tools to monitor, censor, and surveil citizens’ activities on the internet,” Pompeo said.
“CEIEC has been supporting the Maduro regime’s malicious efforts to repress political dissent and undermine democratic processes since 2017,” he said.
The Department of Treasury in a press release said CEIEC was basically providing the Maduro government with a “commercialized version of China’s ‘Great Firewall.’ “
“The Great Firewall is China’s nationwide system of web blocks and filters, used to maintain strict online censorship, control the information Chinese citizens can access outside China, and prevent the internal dissemination of content deemed undesirable by political leadership,” reads the press release.
Such support was provided in part to the Venezuelan National Telephone Company, which the administration alleges frequently blocks open dissent, whether it is remarks from opposition members or online independent newspapers.
As a result, the department says the new sanctions are because CEIEC helped “materially” assist, sponsor or provide support for “actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions.”
The sanctions bar Americans from conducting business with the company and any US assets CEIEC has will be frozen.
In early 2019, the White House recognized Juan Guaidó, a Venezuelan politician, as the country’s rightful leader after Maduro’s reelection bid in 2018 was considered to be widely riddled with fraud.
Afterward, the US sought to turn up the heat on Maduro through diplomatic pressure and sanctions, while other authoritarian-run countries like China, Russia and Cuba have backed Maduro’s stay in power.
Pompeo says the sanctions are the latest example of the US holding responsible entities that support Maduro’s government.
“With this latest action, the United States reaffirms its commitment to promoting accountability for all those complicit in the illegitimate Maduro regime’s efforts to undermine democracy,” he said in a statement.
“Maduro’s desperate attempts to manipulate the democratic processes should leave no doubt that any elections organized by the illegitimate regime … will be neither free nor fair,” Pompeo added, while emphasizing the US government’s support of Guaidó.
Venezuela Loses 99 Percent of Its Income Due to US Sanctions
Despite the damage caused by the US blockade, the Bolivarian government keeps the social programs running
(December 5, 2020) — Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro held a meeting with journalists on Thursday at the Miraflores Palace, where he denounced that the US arbitrary sanctions have caused a loss of 99 percent in the country’s income.
He noted that despite losses in several economic sectors, investments in health, education, and housing have been maintained.
The sanctions have also impacted the wages received by workers, so a strategy was outlined for their recovery in the first half of 2021.
Meanwhile, in a bid to protect the economic sector, a decision was taken to combine the national currency with crypto monies and other currencies.
The meme reads: “Beautiful reception with music, songs, and the joy of all our people who flocked to fill the streets of Caracas to support the candidates of the Bolivarian Revolution. With the Great Patriotic Pole, Let’s Rescue the National Assembly.”
Referring to the Anti-Blockade Law, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez pointed out that new markets and ships are being sought in order to achieve “a recovery of the oil output”.
Venezuelan authorities advocated a consensus in order to achieve stability to the energy markets, following the conclusion of the 12th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting (ONOMM) held via videoconference on Thursday.
“We are working hard to maintain all the Missions and large Missions, health, education, housing, to maintain the level of employment,” Maduro said.
(December 4, 2020) — Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) President Indira Alfonzo on Thursday welcomed international delegations from more than 17 countries that will take part as observers in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
She highlighted that the Dec. 6 elections are taking place in an adverse situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has meant a great effort and level of organization.
The CNE president also informed that recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) have been followed to ensure voters’ biosecurity and the observance of health protocols.
“At this moment we are sure that we have the technical, operative, technological, and bio sanitary conditions to carry out this democratic party in which we will elect the new National Assembly for the period 2021- 2026,” Alfonzo said.
The meme reads: “Rector Alfonzo highlighted that CNE Center for Strategic Operations will be available to the observers on December 6, and from this space, the official speeches on the electoral day and the electoral results will be made.”
Referring to the technological aspect, she noted that a “novel element” is included in this election since a new voting machine will be used to guarantee the agility of the voting process.
She highlighted that the 25 electoral processes developed so far in the country have allowed to “distinguish and show with convincing, public, and notorious facts the strengthening of democracy in Venezuela”.
International observers come from countries such as Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Iran, Ireland, Paraguay, Romania, Turkey, and the US.