The United States on Monday sanctioned Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, bringing to bear the most significant economic pressure so far on Venezuela’s embattled President Nicolas Maduro.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and national security adviser John Bolton announced the sanctions against Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. — the parent company of the US-based Citgo oil company — on Monday afternoon from the White House briefing room. The measure blocks about $7 billion in assets and would result in more than $11 billion in lost assets over the next year, Bolton said.
“The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline,” Mnuchin told reporters while announcing the sanctions.
The sanctions will be effective “immediately,” Mnuchin said, and any purchases of Venezuelan oil by US entities would flow into blocked accounts — money the US officials said would be released only to the legitimate leaders of Venezuela.
President Donald Trump last week recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela and the US has continued to ramp up pressure on Maduro to resign.
Announcing the new sanctions, Bolton once again urged the Venezuelan military to abandon Maduro and recognize Guaido’s legitimacy and said the US continues to keep all options on the table until Maduro transfers power to Guaido.
“Now is the time to stand for prosperity and democracy in Venezuela,” Bolton said. “We think stability and democracy in Venezuela are in the direct national security interests of the United States right now.”