US president Donald Trump, imposed a total embargo on Venezuelan state assets in US territory on Monday, in a new step in the attempt to depose Nicolas Maduro as president.
“All assets and interests in assets of the Government of Venezuela that are in the United States (…) are blocked and cannot be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn or negotiated with them in any other way,” Tump said in an executive order that already went into effect.
The US president said he had taken this decision “in light of the continued usurpation of power by the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro and his collaborators.”
In addition, Trump cited as motives “human rights abuses,” “interference against freedom of expression” and “the attempt to undermine the authority” of opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the United States considers the legitimate president of Venezuela.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the United States only maintains such strong measures against Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea.
The road to the “embargo”
The Trump administration did not detail in its executive order which assets Venezuela kept in US territory and are consequently affected by the measure.
The main Venezuelan state asset in the United States, the oil company Citgo, has already been blocked since January following the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against “Petroleos de Venezuela” (Petroleum of Venezuelan—PDVSA).
Besides depriving Maduro and PDVSA of the control of Citgo, the US executive recognized a new board of directors appointed by the Venezuelan National Assembly, presided over by Guaido.
Since Washington recognized Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela in January, the Trump administration has also imposed sanctions against about a hundred individuals and entities linked to the Maduro Executive, in addition to restricting the gold trade of the Caribbean nation.
On Tuesday, the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela took place in Lima, in which the National Security Advisor of the White House and one of Washington’s main strategists on Venezuela, John Bolton, participated as a speaker.
Guaido: “Protect Venezuelans”
The head of the Venezuelan Parliament, Juan Guaido, recognized as interim president of the country by more than 50 nations, said that the total embargo of Venezuelan state assets in US territory announced by the Donald Trump Administration “seeks to protect Venezuelans.”
“This action seeks to protect Venezuelans,” said the opposition leader in a statement released Tuesday, citing his reactions on the Twitter social network shortly after the news of the embargo was known on Monday night.
Guaido said the US decision “is the consequence of the arrogance of an unfeasible and indolent usurpation,” in reference to the Executive of Nicolas Maduro, whom the Trump Administration and more than 50 countries do not see as legitimate.
“Every person, company, institution or nation that intends to do business with the regime will be, for the purposes of international justice, collaborating and supporting a dictatorship, and will be subject to sanction and an accomplice of crimes that do not prescribe,” Guaido continued.
The opposition leader also indicated that the embargo “has humanitarian exceptions in terms of food and medicine,” two items that are scarce in the Caribbean country, and also “protects the private sector that does not do business with a dictatorship.”
Guaido said that with the embargo “Citgo and all its assets are protected.”
“In addition, any debt that the regime intends to incur with assets of the nation will be illegal. Anyone who wants to benefit from the crisis will be discouraged,” he added.