17:09 GMT +320 May 2018
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    US Calls on American States Organization to Halt Venezuela’s Membership - Pence

    © AFP 2018 / DON EMMERT
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States calls on all members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to suspend Venezuela from the group, US Vice President Mike Pence said during a press conference on Monday.

    "We call on members of the OAS to suspend Venezuela from the Organization of American States, this is an institution dedicated to democracy," Pence said.

    He also urged the OAS member states to impose visa and financial restrictions "on corrupt Venezuelan leaders."

    "The time has come… to cut off Venezuelan corrupt leaders from laundering money through your financial systems," Pence said. "The time has come to enact visa restrictions to prevent Venezuela's leaders from entering your nations."

    Earlier in the day, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on three Venezuelan persons and 20 entities for narcotics trafficking.

    READ MORE: Venezuela Seeks Russian, Chinese Aid Over US Sanctions on Trade Deals

    "The two sanctioned people include Pedro Luis Martin Olivares as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act Walter Alexander Del Nogal Marquez (Del Nogal) and Mario Antonio Rodriguez Espinoza (Rodriguez) for providing financial or technological support, or goods or services in support of the international drug trafficking activities of Martin," the release said.

    OFAC also designated 16 companies in Venezuela and four in Panama owned or controlled by these three individuals, the release added. Among the entities sanctioned by the US government include D2 Imagineering, Financial Corporation Fincorp, Grupo Control 2004, and Inmuebles Y Desarrollos West Point, among others.

    In April, during the 8th Summit of the Americas, 16 out of the 34 countries in attendance adopted a joint statement labeling the upcoming Venezuelan presidential election as illegitimate. The countries urged Caracas to ensure a transparent and democratic electoral process. The European Union and the United States also raised concerns about the vote’s transparency.

    The Venezuelan presidential election is scheduled for May 20. There are five candidates for the post: incumbent President Nicholas Maduro, opposition leader Henri Falcon, Reinaldo Quijada, Luis Ratti and Javier Bertucci. According to analysts, the election's front-runners are Maduro and Falcon.

    US-Venezuelan relations have been tense for decades with Caracas regularly blaming Washington for interfering in its internal affairs and exerting economic and political pressure on Venezuela.

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