The sanctions prohibit U.S. financial institutions from providing new money to the government or the state oil company, PDVSA
Militia members line up to return rifles after taking part in a military drill in Fort Tiuna, Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. President Nicolas Maduro ordered military exercises in response to President Donald Trump's warning of possible military action to resolve the country's crisis. The Trump administration on Friday announced financial sanctions on Venezuela, ratcheting up tensions between the two countries and making it harder for embattled Maduro to raise cash to prevent a debt default. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan), photo: AP/Ricardo Mazalán
25 of August 2017 19:25:48
CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro vowed Friday to prosecute for treason opponents he accused of being behind sweeping U.S. financial sanctions that will strain relations between the countries and make it harder for the socialist leader to raise badly needed cash.Maduro accused President Donald Trump of trampling on international law and relations with Latin America by taking actions that he said would cause "great damage" to the Venezuelan oil economy as well as U.S. investors who own the country's bonds.He singled out the president of Venezuela's congress, Julio Borges, as being the "mastermind" of the financial and economic "blockade" and called on the government-stacked supreme court and a new, all-powerful constitutional assembly to initiate proceedings against opponents who have lobbied in favor of the sanctions."You've got to be a big traitor to your country to ask for sanctions against Venezuela," Maduro said in a televised appearance.
The sanctions, which Trump signed by executive order, prohibit U.S. financial institutions from providing new money to the government or the state oil company, PDVSA. They also ban trading in two bonds the government recently issued to circumvent its increasing isolation from Western financial markets.They also restrict the Venezuelan oil giant's U.S. subsidiary, Citgo, from sending dividends back to Venezuela — a move that Maduro said would lead to the "virtual closure" of a company responsible for thousands of U.S. jobs."They're committing robbery, fraud," Maduro said, adding that Venezuela would reach out to its U.S. partners to make sure decades of business relationships aren't broken. If necessary the government would find new markets for the roughly 700,000 barrels of oil it sends daily to the U.S., he said.Trump officials stressed that by leaving untouched crude shipments between the United States and Venezuela the sanctions were targeting Maduro and his allies, not the Venezuelan people."Maduro may no longer take advantage of the American financial system to facilitate the wholesale looting of the Venezuelan economy at the expense of the Venezuelan people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the White House. "These measures will undermine Maduro's ability to pay off political cronies, and regime supporters, and increase pressure on the regime to abandon it's disastrous path."
Today's sanctions on Venezuela send a strong message to Maduro. We will use our diplomatic & economic tools to hold his regime accountable. pic.twitter.com/hfYtAODZcC— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) 25 de agosto de 2017
The sanctions are bound to worsen a crisis that has already seen Venezuela's oil-dependent economy shrink by about 35 percent since 2014 — more than the U.S. economy did during the Great Depression. But it's unclear how quickly the impact on the streets will be felt.Maduro, who is among some 30 senior officials already barred from the United States, has been warning for weeks that the Trump administration was readying a "commercial, oil and financial blockade" in the mold of the one that has punished Cuba for decades.He found an opportunity to argue his case that he's being unfairly targeted after Trump said earlier this month that he wouldn't rule out a "military option" to resolve Venezuela's crisis — comments that were roundly rejected throughout Latin America, even by some of Maduro's toughest critics.On Friday, journalists were invited to a shooting range at Caracas' main military base to watch as troops taught a handful of civilian government supporters how to fire assault weapons. The event, attended by military officials from China, Belarus and Russia, was a prelude to military exercises Maduro called for this weekend as a deterrent to any U.S. military intervention.David Smilde, a Tulane University sociologist who has spent decades researching Venezuela, said blanket economic sanctions that cut off the government's cash flow and hurt the population are likely to strengthen Maduro in the short-term."They would bolster his discourse that Venezuela is the target of an economic war," said Smilde.However, Smilde supports Friday's more limited sanctions targeting future indebtedness. With Venezuela's streets calmer than they have been for months, and the opposition reeling from its failure to prevent the constitutional assembly from going forward, action from an increasingly concerned international community represents the best chance of reining in Maduro, he added.
.@POTUS action will protect the US financial system from complicity in Venezuela's corruption and impoverishment of their people.— Vice President Pence (@VP) 25 de agosto de 2017
FABIOLA SANCHEZJOSHUA GOODMAN