WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on Chinese firm China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC), accusing it of supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to undermine democracy.
The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said the Chinese company supported the leftist government of Maduro in its “efforts to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents.”
“The United States will not hesitate to target anyone helping to suppress the democratic will of the Venezuelan people and others around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the Treasury’s announcement and asking for the government’s official policy on blocking web content.
CEIEC also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Venezuelans have for years said that their computers and phones cannot access certain websites linked to the opposition or some local news agencies that openly criticize the government.
Those using broadband services provided by state-run telecommunications provider Venezuelan National Telephone Company (CANTV) are generally the most affected, but users of private services also face restrictions.