US administration places sanctions on Venezuela state airline Conviasa

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has said the United States criminalized transactions with Venezuelan flag carrier Conviasa, to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to cede power, the secretary said.

Under the new sanctions, anyone in the United States will be banned from any transactions with Conviasa, which stands for Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronauticas y Servicios.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that Maduro has relied on the airline to shuttle corrupt regime officials around the world to fuel support for its anti-democratic efforts.

Conviasa has faced years of upheaval as Venezuela´s economy collapses. It was banned in 2012 from flying to the European Union on safety grounds and in 2017 temporarily suspended all international service as it lacked foreign currency to buy insurance.

It mostly flies domestic routes but its website showed that it also flies to Bolivia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama.

It recently announced that it would start service in March to Damascus, where President Bashar al-Assad is also under sweeping sanctions over Syria´s civil war.

The Treasury Department said it did not intend to prevent Venezuelans from traveling as other airlines are not affected.

Carriers that still fly to Venezuela include Air France, Turkish Airlines, Spanish carrier Iberia, Portugal´s TAP and Panamanian airline Copa.

Despite a year of US pressure including sanctions, Maduro remains in power and enjoys the support of the military as well as Russia and China.