Trump hits Venezuela with new sanctions as U.S. steps up pressure on Maduro

By Dave Boyer – The Washington Times |

National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listens during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

The Trump administration stepped up its pressure campaign on Venezuela’s socialist president Monday, hitting the country’s state-owned oil company with sanctions and calling on other nations to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim president.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said the sanctions will block $7 billion in assets for the state-owned oil company PDVSA “to prevent the further diversion of Venezuela’s assets” by socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who faces demands from the U.S. and other governments across the hemisphere to step down amid his country’s deepening economic and political crises.

“The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

President Trump last week officially recognized Mr. Guaido as the legitimate leader of the country, as have the leaders of Canada, Brazil, Colombia and other nations. Mr. Maduro, so far, has kept Venezuela’s military on his side and has received support from allies such as Cuba, Russia and China.

The U.S. has pulled some of its embassy personnel from Caracas as the situation in the country deteriorates, with protests, street clashes and economic hardship.

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