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    US Sanctions Four Individuals With Ties to Venezuela's Counterintelligence Agency

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has imposed new sanctions on four individuals with ties to Venezuela's military counterintelligence agency, the Treasury Department said in a press release on Friday.

    "Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four officials of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM)," the release said. "The four DGCIM officials targeted include: Division General Rafael Ramón Blanco Marrero, Colonel Hannover Esteban Guerrero Mijares, Major Alexander Enrique Granko Arteaga, and Colonel Rafael Antonio Franco Quintero."

    The DGCIM, including the four individuals, have been accused of systemic human rights abuses and repressing dissent, the release said. The Treasury sanctioned the DGCIM on 11 July.

    Venezuela has been suffering a humanitarian and political crisis that intensified in January when US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido illegally declared himself the country’s interim president after disputing President Nicolas Maduro's re-election.

    Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido greets supporters during a rally in Barinas, Venezuela, Saturday, June 1, 2019. Guaido is taking his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro to the birthplace of Hugo Chavez, the socialist leaders's mentor
    © AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos
    Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido greets supporters during a rally in Barinas, Venezuela, Saturday, June 1, 2019. Guaido is taking his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro to the birthplace of Hugo Chavez, the socialist leaders's mentor

    The United States and 54 countries have recognised Guaido. However, Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other countries have said they recognize Maduro as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.

    Maduro has called Guaido a puppet of the United States and accused Washington of trying to orchestrate a coup to effect a change in government and take over Venezuela’s natural resources.

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