US Negotiations with Venezuela Stymied by Bounties

  • The US is ramping up sanctions and bounties against Venezuelan government officials.
  • President Nicholas Maduro’s and some of his associates face drug trafficking charges in the US.
  • The Trump administration is also looking to shut down money laundering and smuggling networks.

The US government recently issued a $5 million bounty for information leading to arrest and incarceration of Venezuelan Chief Justice Maikel José Moreno Pérez. The chief judicial officer is accused of receiving significant amounts of assets to influence the ruling of judicial cases in the country.

Maikel Moreno is a lawyer, doctor of Venezuelan constitutional law, and judge who currently serves as president of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Venezuela. On 21 July 2020, the United States imposed sanctions on Moreno and offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of him.

The bribery allegations cover over 20 major cases. He and his wife have been barred entry into the United States since 2017. They were recently included in a separate blacklist comprised of individuals involved in “significant corruption.”

This is according to a statement issued by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Venezuelan government rebuked the move, and said that it was in violation of international law. This was via a statement that read as follows.

“The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela once again rejects the illegal and coercive actions of the government of Donald Trump against the Venezuelan people and its constitutional institutions. On this occasion, they disrespect the Supreme Court of Justice, in the Person of its President, Maikel Moreno, by making false accusations and offering a reward in the style of the cowboys of the wild and far west.”

The most recent development is likely to undermine recent efforts by the US government to negotiate the release of eight prisoners incarcerated in Venezuela. Seven of them are Americans. The US administration has, in recent months, ramped up charges against the top brass in the Maduro government, including the president himself.

In March, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced a $15 million bounty for the capture of Maduro. He and some of his associates were accused of allowing Colombian drug cartels to use the country as a distribution hub to the United States.

US President Donald Trump has pledged to intensify the fight against drug trafficking in Latin America, and the Venezuelan socialist government.

During the crisis in Venezuela, governments of the United States, the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Panama and Switzerland applied individual sanctions against people associated with the administration of Nicolás Maduro. These sanctions included freezing of individuals’ accounts and assets, prohibiting of transactions with sanctioned parties, seizing of assets, arms embargoes and travel bans.

US Administration is Looking to Shut Down Exports to Venezuela

Aside from targeting officials, the Trump administration is also looking to shut down money laundering and smuggling networks used by people close the Maduro regime. Earlier this month, US authorities seized 81 vehicles valued at over $3 million. The cars were about to be exported to Venezuela from Miami when the authorities pounced.

The purchases were tied to members of the Maduro administration. The US government accuses his regime of engaging in systemic corruption. The US Treasury Department has subsequently seized hundreds of millions of dollars in assets belonging to the Venezuelan government in the past few years.

Among the most notable individuals to be included in the latest US Treasury blacklist are two Venezuelan brothers, Ricardo Jose Moron Hernandez and Santiago Jose Moron Hernandez. They are alleged to be in a network of “trusted partners” that work to distribute and obscure the ownership of assets belonging to President Maduro and his son, around the world.

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Samuel Gush

Samuel Gush is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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