Trump orders total embargo of Venezuela over 'illegitimate' Maduro

Daniel Fowler
August 7, 2019

President Donald Trump on Monday announced the USA would expand its existing sanctions against Venezuela by imposing a total economic embargo against the country.

The executive order comes the day before Mr Trump's national security adviser John Bolton and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross represent the United States at the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela. Those include the USA recognition of Juan Guaido, the leader of Venezuela's national assembly, as the country's legitimate leader, and the imposition of sanctions on more than 100 Venezuelan individuals and entities including the state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday that the new sanctions would choke off Maduro's global financing, and he warned Russian Federation not to provide Venezuela with further support. The U.S. will also block entry into the any Venezuelan citizen determined to have assisted or acted on Maduro's behalf.

The national security advisor told the summit that Venezuela had joined the ranks of the world's "rogue states" - alongside North Korea, Iran, and Syria, according to Bolton - adding that President Maduro was "at the end of his rope" and using talks with his political opponents as a stalling tactic.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro takes part in a meeting with members of the government at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela July 25, 2019.

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Bolton said a democratically elected government in Venezuela may view the two countries as hostile powers for supporting what he called the "criminal regime" of Maduro for so long, and could opt not to pay them back billions of dollars in loans.

In January, Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro's 2018 re-election was illegitimate. Most Venezuelan assets outside the country, he said, had already been seized by Guaido's allies.

Asked by a reporter how Venezuela would respond to the executive order, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said: "I'm going to paraphrase Donald Trump ..."

They want him to stand down so new elections can be held - but Maduro, with support from the country's powerful military, refuses to go. Food and medicine shortages are routine, and public services are progressively failing.

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