Rubio, Menendez ask Trump to sanction 10 more high-ranking Venezuela officials

U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez asked President Donald Trump on Tuesday to sanction 10 more high-ranking individuals in the Venezuelan government, ahead of a Sunday election in the South American nation that Trump warned last week would be met with “strong and swift economic actions.”

“However, even before that vote, the current situation in Venezuela justifies sanctions on numerous individuals responsible for supporting the Maduro regime,” wrote Rubio, a Florida Republican, and Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat. 

The most prominent name on the list of Venezuelans who could see their U.S. assets frozen and travel visas banned under the two Cuban-American senators’ list is Tibisay Lucena Ramírez, president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council. But the list also includes several members of the Venezuelan military, in what could be a U.S. attempt to fracture the armed forces that remain loyal to President Nicolás Maduro. 

“This is only the beginning for Maduro and those empowering him to destroy democracy and abuse the Venezuelan people,” Rubio said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “More sanctions await should Maduro move forward with Sunday’s fraudulent vote.” 

Maduro wants to seat a national constituent assembly to rewrite his country’s constitution and effectively usurp all power from its democratically elected National Assembly, which is controlled by Maduro opponents. Rubio has called such a vote “a complete annulment of the democratic order in Venezuela.” 

Besides Lucena Ramírez, the other nine names suggested by Menendez and Rubio are: Carlos Erick Malpica Flores, national treasurer; Jesús Suárez Chourio, commander of the Bolivarian Army; Carlos Alfredo Pérez Ampueda, director of the Bolivarian National Police; Maria Iris Varela, minister of Venezuela’s correctional system; Tarek William Saab, ombudsman; Simón Alejandro Zerpa Delgado, vice president of finance of state oil company PDVSA; Carlos Alberto Osorio Zambrano, head of the strategic region of integral defense; Rodolfo Clemente Marco Torres, brigadier general; and Rocco Albisini, president of the national center for foreign trade, known as CENCOEX. 

“Sadly, there is no shortage of individuals deserving of sanctions,” Rubio and Menendez wrote. “We intend to provide you with additional names in the days to come.”