United States slaps new sanctions on Venezuela

Posted August 26, 2017

The Trump administration banned trades of Venezuelan debt, prohibiting Maduro's government and its state-run oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela SA, from selling new bonds to Americans or in US financial institutions.

The measures would "deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule", the White house claimed. Here's a look at why the USA chose to levy the penalties, which dramatically escalate tensions with the South American nation, and how likely they are to hurt Venezuela's economy and loosen President Nicolas Maduro's grip on power.

Since the assembly was seated, it has voted by acclamation to oust the nation's outspoken chief prosecutor, take lawmaking powers from the opposition-controlled congress and create a "truth commission" that many fear will be used to silence the government's political opponents.

"We have troops all over the world".

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Clashes in Venezuela between anti-government protesters and police this year have left 125 people dead, according to prosecutors.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza blasted the move, saying "today's financial sanctions are the worst aggression towards Venezuela in the last 200 years".

Venezuela held the elections following months of street protests and clashes in which more than 100 people have died. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when asked a few minutes later to elaborate, said, "We leave all options on the table and we're not taking any of those things off".

"What we're trying to do here is create a series of escalatory measures that we can take", a senior administration official said.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a news briefing at the White House, where he announced new sanctions against Venezuela, on August 25.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke to a crowd in Doral, Florida on Wednesday, saying that the US will bring "the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear" to deal with the Maduro regime in Venezuela. Foreign oil service suppliers still operating in Venezuela may also decide that the financial and reputational risk of doing business with the Maduro government has grown too high. They occasionally shouted "freedom, freedom" and cheered every time the vice president spoke of President Donald Trump's interest in Venezuela, a socialist nation that has been undergoing an economic crisis.

Trump has even raised the possibility of military action in Venezuela, although the White House seems to have focused more on economic and diplomatic sanctions.

McMaster downplayed reports that there was a backlash in Latin American countries because of Trump's recent reference to military action.

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Vice President Mike Pence telegraphed Friday's action during a speech Wednesday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral, Florida.