US threat­ens to de­port Venezuelan of­fi­cers’ fam­i­lies

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY FRANCO ORDOÑEZ AND ALEX DAUGH­ERTY McClatchy Wash­ing­ton Bureau

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is threat­en­ing to de­port the fam­ily mem­bers of Venezuelan mil­i­tary of­fi­cials – in­clud­ing some who live in the Mi­ami area – who don’t dis­obey the Ni­colás Maduro gov­ern­ment and al­low aid from the United States to en­ter Venezuela.

A se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial told a small group of re­porters Fri­day that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has col­lected data on mil­i­tary lead­ers who have fam­ily that have left Venezuela. They are liv­ing in Mi­ami, the Car­ib­bean and across the hemi­sphere. Ac­cord­ing to the ad­min­is­tra­tion, they’re liv­ing lives of lux­ury while their coun­try­men suf­fer.

“We will no longer tol­er­ate that dou­ble stan­dard,” a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said. “They face a sit­u­a­tion where they and their fam­i­lies will have to go back to Venezuela … They will have to go back and live in the mis­ery that they’re im­pos­ing.”

The of­fi­cial did not give the names of the mil­i­tary of­fi­cers who have fam­i­lies in the U.S., or how many fam­ily mem­bers would be af­fected.

Venezuela’s in­terim pres­i­dent, Juan Guaidó, has called on fol­low­ers to sur­round mil­i­tary bases on Satur­day and de­mand that the mil­i­tary al­low aid into the coun­try.

The of­fi­cial said the ad­min­is­tra­tion is “op­ti­mistic” the mil­i­tary would al­low the hu­man­i­tar­ian aid into the coun­try with­out re­sort­ing to vi­o­lence. But he warned that the United States and its al­lies had more fi­nan­cial sanc­tions to use against the Cara­cas gov­ern­ment should peo­ple be hurt or the aid is blocked.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion noted that it hoped more mil­i­tary of­fi­cials will fol­low the lead of Hugo Car­va­jal, the for­mer mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence chief, who pledged sup­port for Guaidó. The United States would not say whether Car­va­jal would be re­leased from sanc­tions that are in place against him.

Two peo­ple have al­ready been killed Fri­day after Venezuelan sol­diers opened fire on a group of civil­ians at­tempted to bring hu­man­i­tar­ian aid over the bor­der with Brazil, of­fi­cials said.

The United States has stock­piled aid on the Colom­bian bor­der and law­mak­ers such as U.S. Sen. Marco Ru­bio have de­scribed Feb. 23 as the day when the Venezuelan mil­i­tary, which is cur­rently un­der Maduro’s con­trol, must de­cide whether or not to al­low aid to reach those who need it most.

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