US imposes sanctions on Venezuelan airline

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has placed financial sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned airline Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronauticas y Servicios Aereos, S.A. (CONVIASA) for its support of the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro. 

The agency added CONVIASA to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List.

U.S. persons and companies are generally prohibited from conducting business with individuals or entities on the SDN List. Additionally, any entities owned 50% or more in the aggregate by these listed individuals or entities are blocked.

OFAC also added to the SDN List CONVIASA’s 40 aircraft, which includes seven Boeing 737s, an Airbus A319 and A340, and myriad smaller passenger planes.

Caracas-based CONVIASA flies numerous domestic and select international routes. 

“The illegitimate Maduro regime relies on the Venezuelan state-owned airline CONVIASA to shuttle corrupt regime officials around the world to fuel support for its anti-democratic efforts,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement

OFAC said the action “does not prevent the ability of the Venezuelan people to travel, as they can continue to travel on various other carriers not subject to OFAC sanctions. Rather, this action is intended to curtail the Maduro regime’s misuse of the airline.”

The agency alleged that the Maduro regime has used CONVIASA’s planes to “promote its own political agenda, including shuttling regime officials to countries such as North Korea, Cuba, and Iran.”

The tightening of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, especially targeting its transportation and energy industries, has taken a heavy toll on the South American country’s economy.

The Trump administration said it would lift the sanctions against Venezuela once Maduro steps down and Juan Guaidó, who won the country’s vote in January 2019 to be the next president, is in power.