The United States announced fresh sanctions against the government of Nicolas Maduro, who Washington does not recognize as the legitimate president of Venezuela. These sanctions seek to affect oil operations in this South American nation in an attempt to suffocate the administration’s finances.
The most recent measures seek to block oil shipments from Venezuela to Cuba and thus cut a crucial supply for the island under a communist regime.
On Friday, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on 34 vessels owned or operated by Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA. It also sanctioned two companies and a vessel that delivered oil to Cuba in February and March. The announcement was confirmed by Vice President Mike Pence.
Restrictions on oil shipments to Cuba
“Treasury is taking action against vessels and entities transporting oil, providing a lifeline to keep the illegitimate Maduro regime afloat,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a statement.
Treasury sanctions companies operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy and transporting oil to Cuba https://t.co/embRDwNov6
— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) April 5, 2019
“Cuba continues to profit from, and prop up, the illegitimate Maduro regime through oil-for-repression schemes as they attempt to keep Maduro in power.”
In detail, the sanctions are aimed at two companies: Balito Bay Shipping, from Liberia, and Greece-based ProPer In Management Incorporated. Both companies were involved in Venezuelan crude transportation in recent months.
Moreover, the measure blocked 34 oil vessels owned by PDVSA, which represents another big blow to the government’s capacity to export crude. After the PDVSA sanctions announced back in February, Venezuela has resorted to seeking alternative markets, given that the U.S. was its top customer.
Meanwhile, the Treasury guaranteed that: “The United States continues to take strong action against the illegitimate regime of former President Nicolas Maduro. Not only to isolate corrupt Venezuelan enterprises, but also to target Maduro’s supporters in Havana who continue to enable the oppression of the people of Venezuela.”
“Cuba has been an underlying force fueling Venezuela’s descent into crisis. Treasury is taking action against vessels and entities transporting oil, providing a lifeline to keep the illegitimate Maduro regime afloat,” Mnuchin said in a statement.
Mike Pence reaffirms sanctions on Maduro regime
This new round of U.S. sanctions against Nicolas Maduro was previously announced by Vice President Mike Pence in Houston.
The measures are aimed at further undermining the chavista regime after Washington and most Western nations have recognized the president of the country’s National Assembly Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
Pence assured that these vessels were transporting oil to Cuba, adding that “Venezuelan oil belongs to the Venezuelan people.”
For his part, Guaido said that this “cooperation is highly important.”
“We had suspended oil shipments to Cuba and one of our most important allies is collaborating with this measure so that our oil is no longer used to generate terror or generate some sort of oppression from Cuba to Venezuela,” the interim president said during an event in Caracas.
En coordinación con nuestros aliados ya estamos ejecutando medidas para impedir que el petróleo de los venezolanos siga desviándose hacia Cuba.
Los usurpadores no seguirán robando nuestros recursos para sostener el modelo oscuro que nos trajo a esta tragedia.
¡Vamos con todo! https://t.co/NzCeiHPrrO
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) April 5, 2019
U.S. support to Juan Guaidó
Vice President of the United States Mike Pence reaffirmed the government’s support to Juan Guaidó and encouraged other nations to recognize him as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.
Pence also stated that the sanctions seek to force Nicolas Maduro removal from power as soon as possible, saying that the “tyranny must end soon.”
The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy, and freedom has the momentum. Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power, and Nicolas Maduro must go! pic.twitter.com/GaLwgUa6T6
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) April 5, 2019
“Oil is the life-line of the corrupt regime,” Vice President Pence said in a speech to the Venezuelan community in Texas. Attendees included Juan Guaidó’s U.S. representative Carlos Vecchio.
“The fight for freedom in Venezuela has begun. I believe the day is coming when this nation will be free again,” Pence stated. The event was held at Rice University’s auditorium.
During his speech, Pence announced that he will address the crisis in Venezuela before the UN Security Council next Wednesday.
Prior to this event, he met with Venezuelan immigrants living in Houston, to discuss the country’s situation. They also spoke about the reasons why they decided to leave the country.
Pence listened to them and reaffirmed President Donald Trump’s support to the Venezuelan people.
The White House maintains its support to interim President Juan Guaidó. In fact, sanctions against Nicolás Maduro and his closest collaborators are part of a strategy to remove him from power.
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