The United States Treasury Department's assistant secretary for terrorist financing has said Venezuela was a clear threat to regional stability and warned that the economic collapse of Nicolás Maduro's government could drag down Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, all key US allies.
Venezuela poses a clear threat to regional stability and security on top of the horrific humanitarian crisis that is unfolding before our very eyes, Marshall Billingslea said at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute in Washington. This is a hemispheric issue and the implosion of the regime there is a direct challenge for us, he added.
He also accused the Maduro of contaminating Venezuelan water supplies at gold mining sites.
The once wealthy Venezuela is now going through a humanitarian crisis with hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages, and power cuts.
Billingslea said Maduro's government was one of the largest criminal enterprises in the Western Hemisphere involved in money laundering, graft, fraud and illegal mining schemes, including mining gold and sending it to Turkey for processing. It is being done not just illegally, but it is being done at enormous environmental expense, he said. The regime has basically awarded itself control over a huge percentage of the country and is now stripping this gold out and dumping massive amounts of chemical and mercury contaminants into water supplies.
We have highlighted the fact that a lot of this non-monetary gold appears to be destined for Turkey, he added.
The Trump administration has sought to pressure Maduro, his relatives, and senior members of the Socialist Party through sanctions, helping Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Argentina and Spain to block their assets. It's not their money, it's money they stole,” Billingslea explained.