(CNN) – The Trump administration designates Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism on Thursday and charges against the embattled president, Nicolás Maduro, according to five sources familiar with the situation, in a momentous move that will mark a modern low point in relations between the United States and the United States. failed socialist state.
The appointment places Venezuela in the company of only four other countries, North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Syria, which have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism” and will allow the United States government to implement more paralyzing sanctions against the regime. from Maduro.
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Prosecutors from the US Department of Justice are also expected to reveal the criminal charges against Maduro and the top leaders of his government, the sources said. It is unclear what specific crimes they are being charged with, but sources said they were related to the country’s extensive drug trafficking efforts.
Attorney General William Barr is expected to announce the appointment and the charges at a press conference Thursday morning. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, and CNN contacted the State Department, which officially makes the designation of terrorism.
These measures come several months after a period of historical turmoil in Venezuela that challenged Maduro’s leadership after an election condemned by international authorities and in which there were massive street protests. The United States and a large number of other countries and international organizations have recognized the president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, as the leader of the country, and the Trump administration has launched a campaign of aggressive economic punishment that aimed to remove Mature of power.
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The United States accused the Maduro regime of widespread human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and the detention of Venezuelan citizens.
Members of the regime have also been accused in the past of facilitating drug trafficking operations in the country, in part to fuel a dilapidated economy marred by rampant government corruption.
Colombian officials told CNN last year that drug smuggling in Venezuela has recently involved the Colombian left-wing guerrilla group ELN, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, and which works with Maduro’s army.
US officials have also said that Venezuela is hosting and working with the Iran-backed Hezbollah and the dissent of the demobilized Colombian FARC guerrillas, which are US-designated terrorist organizations.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
With contribution from Kara Scannell.