U.S. HALTS WEAPON SALES TO VENEZUELA

The United States announced it has placed Venezuela on the list of countries not cooperating with counter-terrorism efforts and would ban future weapons sales to the country.

“This focuses on concerns that [the U.S.] has in terms of the relationship [Venezuela] has built up with states like Iran and Cuba, state sponsors of terror,” said Sean McCormack, spokesman for the U.S. Department of State. “There are also concerns about their interactions with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army of Colombia).”

The FARC is the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party while the ELN is a Marxist insurgent group formed in 1965 by urban intellectuals inspired by Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Together the two groups have fought the longest running guerilla war in history and are listed as terrorist organizations by both the United States and the European Union.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dismissed the move as an act of an “irrational empire” telling the BBC that “we will take no notice.”

Relations between the U.S. and Venezuela deteriorated when President Bush allegedly supported a coup attempt against President Chavez on April 12, 2002. Chavez was reinstated as President two days later and won a 2004 national referendum with 59 percent of Venezuelans supporting him.

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