President Trump is considering designating Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism, in an effort to push the socialist government to the brink of capitulation, a report said.
Venezuela, which has been facing a humanitarian crisis stemming from a collapsing economy and state repression, would be added to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism for providing “support for acts of international terrorism,” the Washington Post reported.
The countries already on the list are Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
Republicans have long pushed the White House to designate the country as a sponsor of terrorism, accusing the Venezuelan government of having ties to terror groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and other groups, according to the Post.
But others warn against the move, suggesting such designation would raise questions about the U.S. list’s credibility as the evidence of Venezuela’s ties to terror groups is insufficient.
In addition, the designation would also help the Nicolás Maduro government to blame the country’s woes on the U.S., as he has done in the past.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spearheaded the effort to designate Venezuela as a sponsor of terrorism and demanded the Trump administration to take a tough stance against the regime.
The White House previously imposed sanctions on key figures within the Venezuelan government, including the first lady, defense minister, vice president, and another top official. The U.S. government accused them of helping Maduro to “plunder” the country’s resources.
The Trump administration insisted that further sanctions may follow, potentially boycotting the purchase of Venezuelan oil, the last remaining sources of income to the socialist regime. The U.S. is the largest buyer of the country’s oil.
The designation would limit the U.S. assistance to the country and ban financial transactions with the country.
This would come as Venezuela is combatting with hyperinflation and humanitarian crisis due to shortages of basic needs.