The U.S. Treasury Department imposed a fresh set of sanctions on Venezuelan officials Tuesday, including the wife of President Nicolas Maduro and the country’s vice president.
The action follows the U.S. sanctioning Maduro in 2017, freezing his assets in the U.S. over human rights abuses.
Aimed at what Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin referred to as Venezuela’s “inner circle,” the sanctions placed affected three top officials: Vice President Delcy Eloina, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez and Rodriguez Gomez.
“President Maduro relies on his inner circle to maintain his grip on power, as his regime systematically plunders what remains of Venezuela’s wealth. We are continuing to designate loyalists who enable Maduro to solidify his hold on the military and the government while the Venezuelan people suffer,” Mnuchin said.
The fourth person sanctioned, Cilia Flores, is the wife of President Maduro; she previously served as attorney general for the late Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez. Flores is a deputy representing Cojedes in the Venezuelan Asamblea Nacional.
Responding to the new penalties with derision, Maduro replied during a radio address, saying: “Thank you, Donald Trump, for surrounding me with so much dignity.”
Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, President Trump lambasted Maduro for denying “democracy and political freedoms” to Venezuelan citizens.
Shortly after his first salvo at the struggling South American nation, Trump said the U.S. is prepared to act further, by sanctions or congressional action, to restore Venezuela to a democracy.
Trump later implored U.N. members to act on a “very real crisis.”
Lamenting socialism, Mr. Trump held up the crumbling economic situation in Venezuela as an example of “bringing misery.”
Trump said the “repressive regime” in Venezuela is responsible for a mass exodus of its citizens, surging unemployment, inflation, and food shortages.
Reelected in May amid calls of a rigged election, Maduro has forbid humanitarian aid to the country.
Concerned over the plight of its citizens, Venezuela’s neighbors, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru have formally asked the International Criminal Court to launch an investigation into Venezuela’s government.
[RT] [BBC] [Photo courtesy AFP/Yahoo Finance]