WASHINGTON (Alliance News) – The US government has announced sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in response to what the White House described as “Maduro regime’s recent anti-democratic actions.”
“In a controversial election at the weekend, boycotted by the opposition, a new Constituent Assembly was elected to draw up a new constitution that has the potential to fundamentally change the rules in favour of Maduro.
At least 10 people were killed when the security forces tried to suppress spiralling anti-government protests. Two opposition leaders were re-arrested charging them of inciting violence.
Monday, US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added Maduro to its list of specially-designated nationals.
In a news conference, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that all assets of Maduro subject to US jurisdiction are frozen, and US persons are prohibited from dealing with him.
He warned that anyone who participates in the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly could be exposed to future US sanctions for their role in undermining democratic process and institutions in Venezuela.
Calling Maduro “a dictator,” US National Security Advisor HR McMaster said the US will work with its partners to hold accountable all those responsible for the escalating violence and ongoing human rights violations in Venezuela.
The Trump administration did not mention any restrictions on export of light crude oil to Venezuela or curbing oil imports from the major oil producing country. It could undermine Maduro’s government, raise US gas prices and deepen the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, a country that heavily depends on oil to survive.
Top Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the sanctions imposed on Maduro are warranted. He called on President Trump to keep his commitment to impose economic sanctions on the regime if they convene “the illegitimate Constituent Assembly.”
Leaders across the Americas and Europe labelled the election, in which not even half of the voters took part, as illegitimate.