U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States on Monday, sharply escalating an economic and diplomatic pressure campaign aimed at removing socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power.
The executive order signed by Trump goes well beyond the sanctions imposed in recent months against Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA and the country’s financial sector, as well as measures against dozens of Venezuelan officials and entities.
The new move threatens to target and impose sanctions on virtually any company or individual, foreign or American, that engages in business or offers support to anyone affiliated with the Maduro government, the official said. It isn’t designed to target the people of Venezuela, including their access to remittances.
The Trump administration imposed a total economic embargo against the government of Venezuela, a significant escalation of pressure against the regime of President Nicolás Maduro and countries including Russia and China that continue to support him, a senior administration official said.
President Trump late Monday signed an executive order freezing all government assets and prohibiting transactions with it, unless specifically exempted, the first action of its kind against a government in the Western Hemisphere in more than 30 years. The move places Venezuela on a par with North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba, the only other countries currently under such stringent U.S. measures.
Since the onset of Venezuela’s political crisis this year, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on more than 100 individuals and entities, including state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, the Venezuelan Development Bank and Venezuela’s central bank.
In a letter to Congress on Monday, Mr. Trump said he decided to impose widespread sanctions “in light of the continued usurpation of power by the illegitimate Nicolás Maduro regime, as well as the regime’s human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaidó.”