The United States on Friday criminalized transactions with Venezuelan flag carrier Conviasa, saying it wanted to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to cede power.
Under the new sanctions, anyone in the United States will be banned from any transactions with Conviasa, which stands for Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronauticas y Servicios.
“This action increases pressure on Maduro to negotiate seriously and open a path out of the crisis through a transitional government that will lead to free and fair presidential elections,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
“We call on the international community to step up pressure on Maduro and further isolate him and his corrupt associates and other malign entities,” he said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in justifying the sanctions, said that Maduro has relied on the airline “to shuttle corrupt regime officials around the world to fuel support for its anti-democratic efforts.”
Conviasa has faced years of upheaval as Venezuela’s economy collapses. It was banned in 2012 from flying to the European Union on safety grounds and in 2017 temporarily suspended all international service as it lacked foreign currency to buy insurance.
It mostly flies domestic routes but its website showed that it also flies to Bolivia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama.