US sanctions China company helping Venezuela’s Maduro silence critics

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The US Monday announced sanctions against a Chinese company for supporting Venezuela’s government and leftist leader in their efforts to undermine democracy.

The United States accused China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC) of restricting internet service against political opponents of Nicolas Maduro’s regime.

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On Sunday, Venezuela holds legislative elections in which Maduro hopes to take back the National Assembly, the only institution controlled by the opposition, with Juan Guaido. The latter is recognized as interim president by most Western and Latin American nations, boycotting what he and several international observers see as a rigged process.

“CEIEC has provided software, training, and technical expertise to the regime’s entities. It provides cyber support and technical experts to state-run telecommunications provider Venezuelan National Telephone Company (CANTV) which controls 70 percent of internet service in Venezuela and frequently blocks online independent newspapers and speeches by opposition members,” a statement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department said that the Chinese corporation was blocking live streams by Guaido.

China is a major supporter and commercial partner of oil-producing Venezuela, helping the leftist leader survive a nearly two-year, US-led campaign to topple him as he leads an economy in shambles.

CEIEC was previously under US sanctions from 2006 to 2008 under a law prohibiting activities seen as helping weapons proliferation from Iran and Syria.

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,” Pompeo said.

He added that the US stood with Guaido and the Venezuelan people “who have struggled for years to restore democracy and liberty to Venezuela.”

Read more: Pompeo says US imposes sanctions on Iran’s defense ministry, Maduro

- with AFP

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