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US List of State Sponsors of Terror May Grow

Venezuela could be added over alleged ties to terrorist groups
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2018 10:20 AM CST
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference in Caracas on Sept. 18, 2018.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

(Newser) – The US list of state sponsors of terror may grow to five. The Trump administration is considering adding Venezuela to the list of countries providing "support for acts of international terrorism," already including Iran, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea, reports the Washington Post. The outlet notes the State Department last week asked various agencies for feedback on the proposed move, reportedly based on Venezuela's alleged ties to Lebanese Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, was asked to assess how the terror designation would affect "HHS or CDC programming of funding being carried out by a third party in that country," which is suffering from food and medicine shortages amid hyperinflation.

Republicans including Sen. Marco Rubio have called for the change to pressure Nicolas Maduro's regime. But some fear the designation would fuel anti-US messaging from Maduro, who has said Venezuela is the victim of a US-led "economic war." Others, like David Smilde of the Washington Office on Latin America, worry the designation could be used to justify US military intervention in the country—an idea Trump has toyed with. "I suspect this will be based on hearsay and sources of questionable integrity," he adds, noting a designation without concrete evidence of Venezuela's ties to terrorist groups would delegitimize the US list. Citing similar concerns among US officials, Reuters reports no final decision had been made as of Monday. (Hungry Venezuelans are reportedly turning to horse meat.)

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