U.S. slaps more sanctions on top figures of Venezuelan regime

March 1, 2019

The U.S. has imposed “dozens” of new visa restrictions and sanctions on top officials of the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and their families, escalating a standoff with the socialist regime, the State Department announced Friday.

U.S. special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams called on other countries to increase the economic pressure on Mr. Maduro and restrict visas for those in his inner circle.

“Maduro supporters that abuse or violate human rights, steal from the Venezuelan people or undermine Venezuela’s democracy are not welcome in the United States. Neither are their family members,” Mr. Abrams said.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday said it was levying sanctions on six Venezuelan security officials who have allegedly participated in obstructing international aid into the country. Mr. Maduro had placed roadblocks to prevent aid from accessing the country through Colombia border towns, and denounced the assistance as a precursor to U.S. intervention in his country.

Earlier this week, the U.S. pledged an additional $56 million in aid to citizens who have faced a humanitarian crisis, economic hardship and political repression under Mr. Maduro’s regime.

“What underlines all this is the desire of the Venezuelan people to escape dictatorship and that has not diminished,” Mr. Abrams said.

Speaking in Colombia on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged Latin American allies to financially isolate Mr. Maduro, saying “it’s time to do more” to support opposition leader Juan Guaido, who contends Mr. Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate and has proclaimed himself the country’s “interim president.”