CARACAS – Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez rejected on Saturday, in the name of the military high command, what he called the ridiculous and stupid sanctions that the United States has imposed on four of its officers, two of them retired, and said the military will defend its honor, if necessary with arms.
“It’s odd that they’re imposing sanctions on some of our brethren in arms, alleging corruption and repression precisely at a time when the government’s actions... have restored peace among our citizens,” said a statement from the Venezuelan high command, read by Padrino Lopez to the media.
The minister also said that faced with these sanctions, they are keeping their “dignity intact” and will defend their military honor with “heart” and “reason” and “with arms if necessary.”
The US government announced this Friday sanctions against former Chavista minister and governor of Aragua state, retired Gen. Rodolfo Clemente Marco Torres, and against retired general and ex-governor of Bolivar state, Jose Rangel Gomez.
The US also sanctioned Bolivarian National Guard Gen. Fabio Enrique Zavarse Pabon, and lieutenant general of the army and Border Minister Gerardo Jose Izquierda Torres.
These four officials are accused of corruption and repression in their country.
The US Treasury said that putting these officials on the blacklist of its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) shows that “corruption and repression continue to flourish under the Maduro regime, both by those in current government positions and former officials who continue to benefit from a corrupt system, even as Venezuela’s citizens, economy, and constitutionally enshrined democratic institutions languish.”
Padrino Lopez called this “infamous blackmail, crude, vulgar, against the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB).”
He also referred to the spokeswoman of the US State Department, Heather Nauert, and said her opinions reflect “total ignorance” about Venezuelan military institution.
Padrino Lopez recalled that Nauert said on Twitter that “members of the Venezuelan armed forces can avoid sanctions by respecting the rule of law, and changing their behavior in order to have sanctions removed.”
The defense minister said that “the State Department spokeswoman shows her absolute ignorance about the libertarian traditions” inherited “from our independentista heroes.”
“We know full well that these sanctions are part of a war strategy aimed at undermining the foundations of the Venezuelan government...and creating an ungovernability in order to pursue their evil plans of domination,” he said.