The United States imposed new sanctions Tuesday on four people close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, for what it said are corruption and humanitarian issues.
Maduro’s wife, first lady and former attorney general Cilia Adela Flores De Maduro, is part of the sanctions, along with Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez.
“President Maduro relies on his inner circle to maintain his grip on power, as his regime systematically plunders what remains of Venezuela’s wealth,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “We are continuing to designate loyalists who enable Maduro to solidify his hold on the military and the government while the Venezuelan people suffer.”
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also sanctioned a network of companies maintained by businessman Rafael Alfredo Sarria Diaz as a front organization for Diosdado Cabello Rondon, president the Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly.
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“We ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela,” President Donald Trump said at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday. “Today we are announcing additional sanctions against he oppressive regime targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisers.”
Trump blamed “socialism” for bankrupting the “oil-rich nation” and said it’s “driven its people into abject poverty.”
“Today our Admin took another step to pressure the Maduro regime’s inner circle in #Venezuela to end its LAWLESS actions,” Vice President Mike Pence added in a tweet. “Venezuela is in economic ruin. Its people suffer because of Maduro’s corrupt dictatorship. We’ll continue to hold him accountable until democracy is restored.”
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Venezuela’s bleak economic climate is forecast to continue.
“By the end of 2018, hyperinflation in Venezuela is projected to reach over one million percent,” the Treasury said. “Three million Venezuelans will have departed Venezuela for neighboring nations to escape widespread poverty and its attendant hardships. The Maduro regime, meanwhile, continues to pursue failed policies and financing schemes to mask the regime’s corruption and gross mismanagement.”
The United States has imposed sanctions on former Venezuelan Vice President Tarek El Aissami and more than a dozen other government officials and allies of Maduro’s since last year.