Pence brands Maduro a ‘Cuban puppet’, revokes visas of 77 officials

by WorldTribune Staff, March 7, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence on March 6 announced the U.S. would revoke the visas of 77 individuals tied to Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro and also called out Cuba for propping up Maduro’s brutal socialist regime.

“We will continue to hold the Maduro regime accountable until ‘libertad’ is restored in Venezuela,” Pence said during an annual Latino Coalition event in Washington.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro

Among those whose visas were revoked are many officials of the Maduro regime and their families, Pence said.

“The truth is … their oppressors do not act alone,” Pence said, referring to the Venezuelan people. “The truth is the only way Maduro clings to power is with the brutality of his supporters, and with the help he receives from communist Cuba.”

“As President Trump said in his speech to Venezuelan exiles in Miami not long ago, Maduro is not a Venezuelan patriot, he is a Cuban puppet,” Pence said.

Pence’s remarks came two days after internationally recognized interim President Juan Guaido returned to Venezuela in defiance of the Maduro regime’s threat to arrest him.

“Already in our beloved land! Venezuela, we have just passed migration and we will mobilize where our people are!” Guaido wrote in Spanish on Twitter. “We enter Venezuela as free citizens, no one tells us otherwise.”

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton warned Maduro against harming Guaido, who is recognized by more than 50 nations as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

“Any threats or acts against his safe return will be met with a strong and significant response from the United States and the international community,” Bolton tweeted.

On March 1, the United States imposed targeted visa sanctions on specific individuals deemed responsible for helping Maduro undermine Venezuela’s democracy, and whose enriched family members may attempt to abscond to the safety of the United States, according to a report by The Epoch Times.

“Maduro supporters that abuse or violate human rights, steal from the Venezuelan people, or undermine Venezuela’s democracy are not welcome in the United States,” read a State Department press release that announced the initial visa revocations.

“Neither are their family members who enjoy a privileged lifestyle at the expense of the liberty and prosperity of millions of Venezuelans,” the statement continued.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed additional sanctions against six security officials of the Maduro regime, who were associated with obstructing the entry of international humanitarian aid and violence against those who attempted to deliver the assistance, the Epoch Times report noted.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also took aim at Cuba.

Pompeo announced a temporary suspension of the Libertad Act of 1996, with an exception allowing U.S nationals the right to sue Cuban “entities and sub-entities” under the control of Cuban military intelligence and security forces.

“Today I announce an exception to the 30-day suspension of #TitleIII of the Libertad Act,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter, adding, “We must hold #Cuba accountable and make whole U.S. claimants for assets seized by the Cuban government. Doing business with Cuba is not worth trafficking in confiscated property.”

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