Exclusive: U.S. sanctions Venezuelan officials to pressure Maduro – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is imposing sanctions on 13 senior officials of Venezuela’s government, military and state oil company PDVSA on Wednesday, U.S. officials said, seeking to ratchet up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to scrap plans for a controversial new congress.

The United States decided to target individuals for alleged human rights abuses, undermining democracy and corruption, while sparing the country for now from broader financial or “sectoral” sanctions against its vital oil industry – though such actions, the officials told Reuters, are still under consideration.

The move is aimed at showing Maduro’s socialist government that U.S. President Donald Trump is prepared to make good on his threat of “strong and swift economic actions” if it goes ahead with plans for a vote on Sunday to establish an assembly that critics say will cement Maduro as dictator, the officials said.

The U.S. Treasury Department planned to issue a sanctions announcement later on Wednesday, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The names of those being sanctioned were not immediately provided for publication.

One of the U.S. officials warned that the move was just an initial round of sanctions and the administration was readying tougher additional measures that could be rolled out as part of a “steady drumbeat” of responses to the Venezuelan crisis.

The most serious of the potential future steps would be financial sanctions that would halt dollar payments for the country’s oil, starving the government of hard currency, or a total ban on oil imports to the United States, Venezuela’s biggest customer…

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This article (Exclusive: U.S. sanctions Venezuelan officials to pressure Maduro – sources) was originally published on Reuters and syndicated by The Event Chronicle

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