The file photo shows that people wait in front of a closed office of United Airlines and Copa Airlines in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, on Jan. 25, 2014. (Xinhua/Boris Vergara)
WASHINGTON, May 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao on Wednesday said that she has ordered to suspend all commercial passenger and cargo flights between the United States and Venezuela.
In a statement issued by the Department of Transportation on its website, Chao said that she "has issued an order today suspending air service" between the two nations "with the approval of the Secretary of State and in close coordination with the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security."
According to the order, "the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has concluded 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.'"
The order is in addition to the Federal Aviation Administration's Notice to Airmen issued on May 1, which "prohibits most U.S.-certified aircraft operators and pilots from flying below 26,000 feet over the territory of Venezuela, also for reasons of safety and security," the statement read.
The United States has been pursuing a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the Venezuelan government in support of the nation's opposition leader Juan Guaido. It recognized Guaido as the nation's "interim president" on Jan. 23, days after Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated for a second term.
In response to Washington's support for Guaido, Maduro announced that he was severing "diplomatic and political" ties with the United States.