Picture from Wired

The United States Government has imposed new restrictions on Venezuela, blocking its government assets and threatening anyone dealing with the country, with secondary sanctions. This move has prompted an angry reaction from the Venezuelan Administration.

These renewed sanctions target Venezuela’s government assets in the United States, as well as individuals, companies, and countries doing business with Caracas.

The Executive Order, signed by US President Donald Trump stated that “All property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela that are in the United States… are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in,”.

This announcement was reinforced by a barrage of threats issued by US National Security Advisor John Bolton, who stated that “anyone” dealing with President Nicolas Maduro and his government will face secondary sanctions. He singled out Moscow, which has been engaged in economic and military cooperation with Venezuela for a long time.

“The United States is acting assertively to cut off Maduro financially, and accelerate a peaceful democratic transition,”Bolton said.

This statement by Bolton shows unequivocally the commitment of the US government to regime-change within Venezuela.  

In addition, Bolton has indicated that the US will not recognize any elections held in Venezuela as long as Maduro stays in power, adding that countries, companies, and individuals must choose between doing business with Caracas or Washington.

This aggressive rhetoric prompted an angry reaction in Caracas, which branded the US’ actions as “economic terrorism,”, adding that the decision was not surprising. The Venezuelan Foreign Minister added that these sanctions “formalize a criminal economic, financial, and commercial blockade that has already started,”.

For Venezuela, the new escalation of economic terrorism measures by the Trump Administration consists of the disqualification of the Venezuelan State and any company related to it, whether in Venezuela or abroad, from making deals, which will directly affect the import of food (measures against the food guarantee system) and the international purchase of medicines for the public health system.

Likewise, the provision of essential public services, such as electricity and water, which depend on (mostly) U.S. technologies and which are supplied by companies linked to that country, could be further compromised given the impossibility for these suppliers to enter into direct or indirect agreements with the Venezuelan State.

Bolton explained that this broad executive order authorizes the U.S. government to identify and impose sanctions on anyone who continues to provide support to the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro.

Bolton further added: “We tell Russia and China that their support for Maduro’s regime is intolerable, particularly for the democratic regime that will replace Maduro. We say again to Russia, and especially to those who control its finances: don’t double a bad bet.

In contrast, Russia, China, the European Union and Cuba rejected new U.S. actions against Venezuela, including the freezing of all assets of the Bolivarian government. Likewise, Americans will be prohibited from engaging in transactions with anyone determined to back President Nicolas Maduro or his government.

Those who support the Venezuelan president may not enter U.S. territory either, according to the decree signed by President Donald Trump.

For the Maduro government, the economic, financial and commercial blockade already in place has caused severe challenges in Venezuelan society during the last few years resulting in widespread food shortages, and analysts have indicated that the best way for the United States to institute regime-change is to force an unconstitutional change of government in the country.