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With executive order, Trump imposes new round of Venezuela sanctions

  • August 25, 2017

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Vice President Mike Pence spoke to a crowd in Doral, Florida on Wednesday, saying that the U.S. will bring ‘the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear’ to deal with the Maduro regime in Venezuela. (Aug. 23)
AP

WASHINGTON — President Trump has signed a new executive order imposing sanctions on Venezuela, further isolating the regime of Nicolás Maduro as it cracks down on democratic protests sweeping the oil-rich but cash-poor South American country.

It’s the fourth round of U.S. sanctions this year on Maduro and his inner circle, 30 of whom have had their U.S. assets seized. 

“This order demonstrates more clearly than ever that the United States will not allow an illegitimate dictatorship to take hold in the Western Hemisphere at the expense of its people,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Friday.

The executive order was signed Thursday but not immediately disclosed until after it went into effect at midnight Friday — a tactic designed to prevent sanctions evasion.

The new sanctions are an attempt to close a number of loopholes Venezuela has used to sell off assets and raise money. They restrict the ability of Venezuela and state-owned oil company PDVSA to issue new debt or stock in U.S. dollars, or engage in other financial dealings with U.S. citizens.

The order allows the Treasury Department to make exceptions, and the Office of Foreign Assets control made four of them on Friday. They allow for a 30-day wind-down period, trading of existing bonds on the secondary market, and transactions involving food, medicine and humanitarian aid. The oil refiner Citgo — owned by Venezuela but based in Houston — is also exempt.

“We want to make sure that U.S. pensions or U.S. fiduciaries are protected, and if they want to sell their investments they can do that,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “But this forbids the purchase of any new debt.”

The sanctions come two days after Vice President Pence met with Venezuelan exiles in Miami, promising them that “we are with you and we will stand with you until democracy is restored in Venezuela.”

Trump has even raised the possibility of military action in Venezuela, although the White House seems to have focused more on economic and diplomatic sanctions.

“In terms of military options or other options, there’s no such thing any more as only a diplomatic option, or only a military option, or only an economic option. We try to integrate all the options together,” McMaster said Friday. But he continued, “No military options are anticipated in the near future.”

Maduro, the 54-year-old successor to former socialist dictator Hugo Chavez, has faced widespread protests following an economic collapse caused by a decline in oil prices, runaway inflation and severe shortages of basic goods. 

The Venezuelan president has attempted to keep his grip on power by holding new elections — which were plagued by strongarm tactics and counting irregularities — and rewriting the nation’s constitution. 

More: Why is Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro so controversial?

More: Trump’s threat of ‘military option’ wins cheers from struggling Venezuelans

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  • Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House15 of 84
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  • Trump waves to the crowd after delivering a speech17 of 84
  • Trump announces his decision for the United States18 of 84
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  • The president and first lady step off Air Force One21 of 84
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  • Trump meets with Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office24 of 84
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  • President Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association-ILA27 of 84
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  • New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, President31 of 84
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  • Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk down42 of 84
  • Trump talks with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Capitol43 of 84
  • Trump speaks to auto workers at the American Center44 of 84
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  • Trump gestures as he surprises visitors during the46 of 84
  • Trump walks with grandchildren Arabella Kushner and47 of 84
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  • Trump holds up an executive order to bolster historically50 of 84
  • Trump reaches out to shake hands with Army Lt. Gen.51 of 84
  • The Trumps attend a campaign-style rally on Feb. 18,52 of 84
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  • Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listen58 of 84
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