U.S. imposes new sanctions on Maduro’s state-owned oil company

May 20, 2019 GMT

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday said the U.S. will sanction dozens of ships tied to Venezuela’s state-owned oil and gas company, as the White House ramps up financial pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

It is also sanctioning a pair of companies that transport Venezuelan crude oil to Cuba.

“Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people,” Mr. Pence said at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The sanctions will be levied against 34 vessels that operate under Petrleos de Venezuela, S.A. known as PDVSA.

PDVSA is a “vital source” of the Maduro regime’s wealth, Mr. Pence said.

Previously, the U.S. imposed sanctions on 150 government officials loyal to Mr. Maduro, plus state-owned banks and gold mines.

The U.S. and more than 50 nations have recognized National Assembly leader Juan Guaido as the rightful leader of Venezuela, though efforts to oust Mr. Maduro are in a holding pattern.


Mr. Maduro has received help from Russia, complicating global efforts to nudge out the strongman, who’s been blamed for rampant poverty and hunger in the South American nation.

The White House says it would like to see a peaceful, democratic transition to new leadership, yet “all options” are on the table.

“Nicolas Maduro would do well not to test the resolve of the United States of America,” Mr. Pence said.

In the meantime, the U.S. is ramping up financial pressure and providing aid where it can. It has extended $200 million for displaced Venezuelans and staged 500 metric tons of supplies in neighboring countries, according to Mr. Pence.

The vice president painted a bleak picture of life in Venezuela. It’s steeped in corruption, crime and violence, he said, and the average resident has lost 20 pounds due to lack of food.

Mr. Pence said the humanitarian crisis is the outgrowth of Mr. Maduro’s pledge to usher in a socialism.

“Sadly for the people of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro did just that,” he said.

Mr. Pence said their struggles serve as a warning for left-leaning voices at home.

“America will never be a socialist country,” he said.