WASHINGTON, United States – The Donald Trump administration today took punitive action against Venezuela, imposing tough new financial sanctions against the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country gripped in turmoil.
President Trump signed an executive order mandating the prohibition of trade in new bonds issued by the Nicholas Maduro government and the state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA).
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the move essentially bars American banks from entering any new deal with the Venezuelan Government.
“The president’s new action prohibits dealings in new debt and equity issued by the government of Venezuela and its state oil company. It also prohibits dealings in certain existing bonds owned by the Venezuelan public sector, as well as dividend payments to the government of Venezuela,” she explained in a statement.
Charging that the Maduro government rewards and enriches ”corrupt officials” to remain in office, Sanders added that the “measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule, protect the United States financial system from complicity in Venezuela’s corruption and in the impoverishment of the Venezuelan people, and allow for humanitarian assistance.”
However, Washington said that it would minimize the impact of the measures on American and Venezuelan people by issuing general licences that allow for transactions that would otherwise be prohibited by the Executive Order.
These include provisions allowing for a 30-day wind-down period; financing for most commercial trade, including the export and import of petroleum; transactions only involving Citgo; dealings in select existing Venezuelan debts; and the financing for humanitarian goods to Venezuela, she said.
In immediate response, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza blasted Washington for taking the “worst aggression” against Venezuelans.
He accused the US of trying to stoke a humanitarian crisis in the oil-rich, cash-poor nation.
“We don’t understand it,” Arreaza said after talks with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, vowing that the government of President Nicolas Maduro would defend itself.