US halts flights to Venezuela

US halts flights to Venezuela
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The Trump administration has suspended flights between the U.S. and Venezuela, citing political turmoil in the South American country.

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoTransportation Dept: Preparations in place for 'immediate mass shipment' of COVID-19 vaccines Women set to take key roles in Biden administration New administration, House turnover raise prospects for more diversity on K Street MORE on Wednesday issued an order suspending air travel between the countries with approval from Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS to temporarily withdraw some embassy personnel in Baghdad: report Pompeo to host indoor holiday parties at State Department despite warning to employees to hold some missions virtually The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Pressure builds as UK approves COVID-19 vaccine MORE, according to a Department of Transportation (DOT) statement. 


The move follows a request by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. 

According to the order, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determined that "conditions in Venezuela threaten the safety and security of passengers, aircraft, and crew traveling to or from that country, and that the public interest requires an immediate suspension of all commercial passenger and cargo flights between the United States and Venezuela."

"This determination is based on the ongoing political instability and increased tensions in Venezuela and associated inadvertent risk to flight operations," a DHS statement said. It also noted that DHS, DOT and the State Department will continue to monitor the situation in Venezuela and reverse their action if the conditions there change. 

The flights will remain halted indefinitely. 

Venezuela is embroiled in political crisis. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is backed by the U.S. and a number of other countries, has declared himself the country's interim president and has attempted to oust President Nicolás Maduro.

Updated at 3:28 p.m.