January 23, 2021

US sends warships to Caribbean to stop illegal drugs

The US says it is sending warships to the Caribbean to stop illegal drugs.

“We must not let the drug cartels exploit the [coronavirus] pandemic to threaten American lives,” President Donald Trump said.

The move comes a week after the US charged Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other senior officials in the country with “narco-terrorism”.

It accused them of flooding the US with cocaine and using drugs as a weapon to undermine the health of Americans.

A $15m (£12.5m) reward was offered for information leading to Mr Maduro’s arrest.

The Venezuelan government called the US deployment a “diversion” from the current pandemic spreading around the US – and the world at large.

The US military deployment will further escalate tensions between the two nations.

Washington has long accused the Venezuelan president of leading a corrupt and brutal regime, a charge he has repeatedly rejected.

It backs the opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president last year.

But the US deployment comes two days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered to lift crippling sanctions against Venezuela if Mr Maduro and Mr Guaidó agreed to a power-sharing deal.

Under the US plan, Venezuela’s left-wing president would “step aside” and a transitional council would govern until fresh elections.

The US imposed its latest round of sweeping sanctions against Venezuela last year in an attempt to force Mr Maduro to step down.

However, Mr Maduro has so far resisted all attempts to remove him from power.

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