In a move which drew a sharp rebuke from Caracas, the White House imposed a fresh set of coarse economic sanctions against cash-strapped Venezuela on Friday.
In its biggest blow directed at the Nicolas Maduro government, the new executive order signed by President Trump bars American banking firms from entering into any new agreement with the government of Venezuela or its state-owned petroleum firm, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA).
“It’s a strong message for the people of Venezuela, and it’s a strong message to Maduro. We are not going to tolerate the dictatorship he’s trying to create, and we’re not going to respect the sham assembly,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said at the UN.
Under the broad, new sanctions, American firms are prohibited from transactions involving new debt from PDVSA with a maturity beyond 90 days, new debt from the government of Venezuela with a maturity beyond 30 days, and bonds or dividend payments of which profits benefit the government of Venezuela or PDVSA.
Denouncing the move as the equivalent of economic warfare, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza demanded the UN condemn the action:
“The imposition of sanctions or the attempt to impose sanctions, just like the military threats, correspond to uncivilized politics. We are in the house of law, of international law, of the elemental principles of the United Nations charter, of respect to the sovereignty of peoples, of non-interference, and the United Nations cannot — as we told the Secretary General — stand by with their arms crossed and not condemn these actions.”
The latest round in a series of economic moves designed to target the Maduro government, the White House has referred to Venezuela as a dictatorship since the convening of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) in July.
Created by a non-binding referendum at the end of July, the plenipotentiary body has essentially assumed the authority of the unicameral National Assembly, controlled by opponents of Maduro’s rule, including opposition leader Julio Borges, who the president is labeling as the “mastermind” of the sanctions.
“You’ve got to be a big traitor to your country to ask for sanctions against Venezuela,” Maduro said Friday.
[euronews] [AP] [Photo courtesy EPA via NBC News]