Trump Signs Order Authorizing New Sanctions on Venezuela

by Garry Watts August 26, 2017, 1:03
Trump Signs Order Authorizing New Sanctions on Venezuela

The sanctions bar Americans from new financial transactions with Maduro's government and Venezuela's state-run oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela SA.

Reflecting those concerns and a strong lobby effort by the USA oil industry, Friday's action stopped short of cutting off US imports of Venezuelan oil that are crucial both to both Venezuela's economy and to Gulf refiners. The White House issued a statement targeting Maduro's creation of a "constituent assembly" to replace the National Assembly and rewrite the Venezuelan constitution.

He told them, "We are with you and we will stand with you until democracy is restored in Venezuela".

"It also prohibits dealings in certain existing bonds owned by the Venezuelan public sector, as well as dividend payments to the government of Venezuela", the White House said in a statement.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says sweeping new sanctions against Venezuela are aimed at turning up the heat on embattled President Nicolas Maduro while sparing the Venezuelan people from further harm.

Referring to this week's meeting between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Venezuelan opposition leaders in Miami, Maduro said that "a meeting like never before between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and a group of fugitives from the Venezuelan justice system was held yesterday".

The new economic sanctions are likely to worsen a crisis that has already seen the oil-dependent economy shrink by around 35 percent since 2014 - more than the US economy did during the Great Depression.

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The order is Washington's biggest sanctions blow to date against Mr Maduro and is meant to punish his leftist government for what Mr Trump has called an erosion of democracy in the oil-rich country, already reeling from an economic crisis.

The Maduro regime is running out of money.

However, the order protects holders of most existing Venezuelan government and PDVSA bonds, who were relieved the sanctions did not go further.

The order also permits the Treasury Department to help finance humanitarian aid for Venezuela citizens. He added that while he does not feel an attack would come in the form of a "classic military invasion", it is possible that the Venezuelan Armed Forces could be attacked "from within", in order to create a situation of "ungovernability" justifying an invasion.

"In Venezuela there is no hunger: In Venezuela, there's willpower", said Delcy Rodríguez, president of the new constituent assembly.

"These sanctions are not against Venezuela, but rather the corrupt people who seek to sell the nation's assets at a discount", opposition lawmaker and economist Angel Alvarado said.


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