Country Report on Terrorism 2016 - Chapter 2 - Venezuela

Overview: In May 2016, for the eleventh consecutive year, the Department of State determined, pursuant to section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act, that Venezuela was not cooperating fully with U.S. counterterrorism efforts. There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained a permissive environment that allowed for support of activities that benefited known terrorist groups. Individuals linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army, and Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) were present in Venezuela, as well as Hizballah supporters and sympathizers.

Separately, the Venezuelan government took no action against senior Venezuelan government officials who have been designated under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, for materially assisting the narcotics-trafficking activities of the FARC or for acting for or on behalf of the FARC, often in direct support of its narcotics and arms trafficking activities.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Venezuelan criminal code and Venezuelan laws explicitly criminalize terrorism and dictate procedures for prosecuting individuals engaged in terrorist activity. The government routinely levies accusations of “terrorism” against its political opponents. Following a wave of anti-government protests in 2014, the Venezuelan government introduced a series of counterterrorism laws intended to suppress future public demonstrations.

Some Venezuelan military and civilian agencies perform counterterrorism functions. Within the Venezuelan armed forces, the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence and the Command Actions Group of the National Guard have primary counterterrorism duty. The Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and the Division of Counterterrorism Investigations in the Bureau of Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigative Corps within the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace have primary civilian counterterrorism responsibilities. The degree of interagency cooperation and information sharing among agencies is unknown due to a lack of government transparency.

Border security at ports of entry was vulnerable and susceptible to corruption. The Venezuelan government routinely did not perform biographic or biometric screening at ports of entry or exit. There was no automated system to collect advance passenger name records on commercial flights or to cross-check flight manifests with passenger disembarkation data.

In July, Syrian national Jihad Diyab, who had been relocated to Uruguay following his 2014 release from Guantanamo Bay, traveled to Caracas with the perceived intention of continuing onward to Turkey to reunite with his family. He was detained by Venezuelan authorities in late July and deported back to Uruguay.

Venezuela did not respond to a 2015 request from the Spanish government to extradite former ETA member José Ignacio de Juana Chaos, who served 21 years in prison for his role in the killing of 25 people in a series of terrorist attacks. De Juana Chaos has been wanted in Spain since 2010 on charges of “glorifying terrorism.”

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Venezuela is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body; and its financial intelligence unit, Unidad Nacional de Inteligencia Financiera, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.

Venezuela’s existing anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing legal and regulatory framework criminalizes the financing of terrorism and includes obligations for suspicious transaction reporting. There remained; however, significant deficiencies in the terrorist asset freezing regime, including a lack of adequate procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets.

There was no publicly available information regarding the confiscation of terrorist assets in 2016. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Venezuela participated as an official observer in peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. Venezuelan and Colombian foreign ministers met several times throughout the year to address the reduction of smuggling of illegal goods, narcotics trafficking, and the activity of illegally armed groups.