FLASH: The ban on Americans doing business with Venezuela’s government took effect immediately.
The Trump Administration has frozen all Venezuelan government assets in a dramatic escalation of tensions with socialist leader Nicolás Maduro, who has clung to power in the face of mounting international pressure.
An executive order signed by President Donald Trump Monday justified the move by citing President Maduro’s continued “usurpation” of power and human rights abuses by groups loyal to him.
While the order falls short of an outright trade embargo, it represents the most determined US action to remove Mr. Maduro since The Trump Administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader in January. This WH action places Venezuela on par with adversaries such as Cuba, Syria, Iran and NKorea, who have come under heavy US sanctions.
Prior sanctions have targeted dozens of Venezuelan government insiders as well as the South American nation’s Crude Oil industry, the source of almost all of its export earnings.
As part of the executive order, Americans will be banned from engaging in transactions with anyone determined to be assisting Mr. Maduro or his government. The same Maduro supporters will also be banned from entering the US.
Exceptions will be allowed for the delivery of food, medicine and clothing. Transactions with Venezuela’s sizable private sector do not appear to be affected by this order.
The executive order happened the day before President Trump’s NSA John Bolton and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross represent the United States at the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela.
The conference is being attended by representatives from more than 50 nations that recognize Mr. Guaidó as Venezuela’s President and consider Mr. Maduro’s re-election last year to be fraudulent.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton and the US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross arrived in Lima to attend an international conference on the Venezuela political crisis, organized by the Lima Group. Also expected to arrive is Elliott Abrams, head of the White House team for the Venezuela issue.
On Twitter, NSA Bolton said, “Looking forward to my trip to Lima for the International Conference on Democracy on Venezuela to discuss the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela w/ regional leaders. This is a great opportunity to meet w/ friends in the Hemisphere on continued support for Interim Pres.”