Trump administration imposes total economic embargo against Venezuela

Trump administration increases sanctions amid escalating tensions between US and Venezuela

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 06 August 2019 15:44
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Mike Pompeo says US preparing for possible military intervention in Venezuela

Donald Trump has increased existing sanctions against Venezuela, freezing the government’s assets as the US escalates an economic effort to force Nicolás Maduro out of power.

The Venezuelan president’s administration joins Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran on a short list of US adversaries who face similarly severe embargoes.

“I have determined that is is necessary to block the property of the Government of Venezuela in light of the continued usurpation of power by the illegitimate Nicolas Maduro regime, as well as the regime’s human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaido of Venezuela and the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly,” Mr Trump wrote in a Monday letter to congressional leaders.

American citizens and companies will no longer be allowed to conduct any business with the Maduro administration and its allies, the Associated Press reported. While the country can maintain its private sector under the sanctions, foreign groups that conduct business with the Venezuelan government can also face economic punishments from the US.

The US sanctions permit certain exceptions, including for food and medicine.

The announcement arrived as leaders from dozens of countries met in Peru to discuss the crisis in Venezuela on Tuesday in a meeting aiming to “restore democracy” in the country. US National Security Adviser John Bolton represented the US at the meetings, along with US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.

Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey all declined to join the international meeting, and have expressed their support for the Maduro administration.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Bolton said the US was implementing the measures “to ensure that Maduro runs out of ways to financially sustain himself."

The Trump administration supported Mr Guaido immediately after he announced his intention to become the next interim president of Venezuela, following an election last year in which Mr Maduro won another six-year term despite international groups saying it was an unfair and rigged process.

“In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country's constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant,” Mr Trump said in a statement at the time.

“The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law," he added.

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Venezuela’s economy has fallen further into economic collapse throughout the year after the US imposed an initial round of sanctions that severely limited the country’s national oil company.

The latest sanctions also include an economic freeze on US assets owned by over 100 officials and others close to the Maduro administration, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

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