WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Tuesday after the Trump Administration announced it was sanctioning Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. El Aissami is the Executive Vice President of Venezuela:
“Vice President El Aissami has helped foster the entrenched corruption that sent Venezuela into a downward spiral from which that country will not soon recover, so I am pleased at the Treasury Department’s announcement today designating him and his frontman, Samark Jose Lopez Bello, for U.S. sanctions.
“While corruption flourishes at the highest levels of the Venezuelan government, the country’s ongoing economic, political and humanitarian crisis continues unabated and is a heartbreaking tragedy. I was alarmed to learn that for the first time ever, asylum requests by Venezuelans seeking to come to the United States last year were greater than any other nation – some 18,000.
“I will continue to lead efforts in the United States Senate to impress upon the Venezuelan leadership that they must release political prisoners and respect the country’s constitutional and democratic processes. I will also continue to encourage our regional allies in the Western Hemisphere and the Organization of American States to keep up the pressure on the Maduro regime.”
In January, Senator Cardin led nine of his bipartisan colleagues in introducing a Senate resolution on the Venezuelan crisis.