Connie Mack Calls for U.S. to List Venezuela as State Sponsor of Terror
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Florida Republican Congressman Connie Mack, the chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, turned up the heat on Venezuela this week and called for the Obama administration to include that South American nation on the list of countries that are recognized as state sponsors of terrorism.
“Illegal activity emanating from the Chavez regime continues unabated,” said Mack -- a vocal critic of the Venezuelan government led by Hugo Chavez -- on Thursday in response to reports that, as part of a shakeup in that nation’s leadership, Henry Rangel Silva will be elevated to defense minister of Venezuela.
Silva, a general in the Venezuelan army who was allied with Chavez during their attempted coup in 1992, was accused by the U.S. Treasury Department back in 2008 of helping the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which the U.S. government described as a “narco-terrorist organization.” In 2001, the U.S. State Department listed FARC as a terrorist organization; in 2003, then-President George W. Bush’s administration classified FARC as an organization dealing in drugs.
Mack pointed to a hearing that he chaired on June 24 which touched on the Chavez regime’s support for Iran and ties between the drug trade and terrorism.
“During the last subcommittee hearing that I held, I mentioned several individuals within Chavez’ regime that are intimately tied to drug trafficking and terrorism, but specifically called out Henry Rangel Silva for his close ties with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a designated international terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department,” said Mack.
The congressman then took a shot at Nicolas Maduro who, according to reports, Chavez moved from foreign minister to vice president.
“Maduro is no exception to this trend within the Chavez regime,” insisted Mack. “This potential Cabinet shuffle is another clear demonstration of support for illegal activity at the highest levels within the Chavez regime. "
Mack repeated his call that the Obama administration add Venezuela to the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
“The State Department cannot continue to give recognition to these dangerous criminals and must designate Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism without further delay,” said Mack.
If the U.S. secretary of state determines a nation is a state sponsor of terrorism, pursuant to U.S. laws, that county will have U.S. foreign aid restricted and defense exports and sales banned, while other exports will face restrictions. Nations listed as state sponsors of terrorism also face “miscellaneous financial and other restrictions” according to the U.S. State Department.
If Mack’s demand is approved, Venezuela would become the fifth nation currently recognized as a state sponsor of terror. Syria was recognized as such in 1979 and fellow Middle Eastern nation Iran placed on the list in 1984. Venezuela would join Cuba, which was added in 1982, as the only recognized state sponsors of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in August 1983.
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