Trump Signs Sanctions Aimed Squarely At Venezuelan Government

"This has been a catastrophe for the country", Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in Friday's White House press briefing.

The Bolivarian Government has the "obligation to defend the nation's sovereignty", Maduro said.

President Donald Trump announced Friday that his administration would impose new economic sanctions on the regime of President Nicolás Maduro in response to what it characterized as attacks on Venezuela's democratic institutions.

Mnuchin said Friday that President Trump's executive order barring USA banks from providing new money to the Venezuelan government or state oil company will ensure Maduro can no longer utilize the US financial system to "facilitate the wholesale looting of the Venezuelan economy".

Venezuela's former oil minister Eulogio Del Pino will resume the role while incumbent Nelson Martinez will take over as the new chief of the state energy firm PDVSA, the Venezuelan president said Thursday.

The measures would "deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule", the White house claimed.

But the sanctions don't apply to short-term financing for oil sales.

"What do they want - they want to starve the Venezuelan people?"

In a transparent attempt at self-preservation, the Maduro dictatorship rewards and enriches corrupt officials in the government's security apparatus by burdening future generations of Venezuelans with massively expensive debts, the White House said.

"It will bolster his discourse that Venezuela is the target of an economic war", said Smilde.

Parallel to the sanctions, the Treasury Department has issued licenses to certain transactions "to mitigate the damage to the American and Venezuelan people" and the trade of crude oil is one of them. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the measures in greater detail.

Yields on Venezuela's benchmark 2038 sovereign bond and those of state-run oil company PDVSA's benchmark 2037 bond rose modestly after the announcement of the latest round of USA sanctions. The opposition boycotted the vote to elect the body's 545 delegates.

Maduro's moves come after the nearly 90% drop in profits at Petroleos de Venezuela SA previous year amid declining output and a drop in oil prices. Several prominent opposition mayors have also been removed or ordered arrested by the government-stacked supreme court.

Earlier this week, Vice-President Mike Pence traveled to Florida to meet with Venezuelan exiles.

"The birthright of the Venezuelan people has always been and will always be libertad", he wrote, using the Spanish word for "freedom". He called relations with the USA the worst in history.

  • Jon Douglas