Trump Administration Announces Strong Financial Sanctions On Venezuela

by Sandra Lilley /
VENEZUELA-CRISIS-HEALTH-PROTEST
Health care workers holding a Venezuela's national flag demonstrate against President Nicolas Maduro's government, the lack of medicines and low salaries in the country, in Caracas on February 7, 2017.Federico Parra / AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration signed an executive order on Friday imposing sweeping financial sanctions against Venezuela. It bars U.S. banks from providing new money to the Venezuelan government or to its state oil company.

"We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles. The President’s new action prohibits dealings in new debt and equity issued by the government of Venezuela and its state oil company," according to a statement released by the White House. "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 sanctions stop short of cutting off crucial U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil.

The announcement follows an event that Vice President Mike Pence held in Miami on Wednesday, where he hinted at Friday's actions. "The United States of America will continue to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela.”

A senior Trump administration official said they would impose added sanctions if the Venezuelan government doesn't change their plans to rewrite the constitution, free political prisoners and hold elections that are fair and transparent.

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Speaking at the United Nations on Friday, Venezuela's foreign minister Jorge Arreaza is calling new U.S. financial sanctions "the worst aggressions to Venezuela in the last 200 years, maybe."

Following the U.S. announcement, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL) thanked Pence for his earlier statements on Venezuela. "Preventing Maduro and his cronies access to the U.S. financial systems is vital and barring Citgo from transferring any profits to PDVSA reaffirms America’s commitment to the Venezuelan people in their continued push for freedom and democracy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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