Trump Targets New Venezuelan Debt in Latest Round of Sanctions

Venezuela Political Crisis

For the first time, the US has imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela.

"The president is making sure that the US financial system will not be complicit in any future further placement of debt that would allow the Venezuelan government to finance this abhorrent behavior", a senior Trump administration official told reporters in a phone briefing.

The U.S. Treasury Department issued financial sanctions on individuals in the run-up to, and aftermath of, the election of the National Constituent Assembly, including against Maduro himself.

The 545 members of the Constituent Assembly - which has seized power from the opposition-led legislature, and drawn worldwide scorn - unanimously decided they would approve the text and then set a referendum date.

Trump had on August 11 issued a surprise threat to Maduro, warning that the U.S might intervene in the chaos enveloping the South American country.

During a Latin America tour this month, Mr Pence downplayed Mr Trump's recent talk of a "military option" for Venezuela while repeatedly raising the spectre of sanctions. "It has just been issued and we are preparing the response to protect our people", said Arreaza, speaking from the United Nations headquarters in NY.

Prohibiting Americans from extending new debt with a maturation period of longer than 90 days to Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela.

The sanctions are bound to worsen a crisis that has already seen Venezuela's oil-dependent economy shrink by about 35 percent since 2014 - more than the USA economy did during the Great Depression.

The U.S. has been increasingly concerned that Maduro's government is heading down the path of dictatorship.

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"We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles", the White House said.

"Maduro has chosen to embrace dictatorship more fully ..."

Earlier this week Vice President Mike Pence vowed the U.S. would not allow "the collapse of Venezuela", saying such an event would "endanger" countries in the wider region.

A woman held a sign at the event that read, "Venezuelan resistance asks for military resistance".

Two other mayors told Pence the US government should impose more sanctions.

Following Maduro's decision to create an illegal alternate legislature known as the "national constituent assembly" (ANC) designed to consolidate his authority, the Trump administration placed personal sanctions on Maduro and 13 senior Venezuelan officials on grounds of human rights abuses, corruption, and undermining democracy.

At U.N. headquarters, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters: "We have had no choice but to turn around and do the sanctions to get their attention".

"Maduro's economic mismanagement and rampant plundering of his nation's assets have taken Venezuela ever closer to default", the statement said.

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