WASHINGTON – The Donald Trump administration imposed on Monday direct economic sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, including freezing the assets he keeps under US jurisdiction.
The measure was announced by the Treasury Department and comes one day after the nationwide vote in Venezuela to elect the members of a constitutional national assembly, who will be tasked with rewriting that country’s constitution.
“Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
“By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” he added.
“As a result of today’s actions, all assets of Nicolas Maduro subject to US jurisdiction are frozen, and US persons are prohibited from dealing with him,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin added that the door remains open to further sanctions against Venezuelan officials.
Meanwhile, later on Monday, Maduro replied to the sanctions order, saying in a television appearance from the headquarters of the National Election Council in Caracas, “You’re with (US President Donald) Trump or you’re with Venezuela. You’re with Trump or you’re with democracy. You’re with Trump or you’re with the free peoples of the world. This is the decision.”
“These are decisions that express his impotence, his desperation, his hatred. They express the character of the magnate who is emperor of the United States,” adding that “I do not obey imperial orders ... from foreign governments.”
He said that “Trump is more repudiated in the United States and in the world than (former US President) George W. Bush himself,” adding that he, Maduro, is “anticolonialist, antiracist” and “against the Ku Klux Klan that governs the White House.”
Washington thus adds Maduro to the list of 13 Venezuelan officials and former officials who were sanctioned last week for human rights abuses, corruption and acting to undermine democracy.
In the vote on Sunday, in which the opposition did not participate, considering it to be “fraudulent,” 545 representatives were elected to draft a new constitution to replace the charter that has been in force in Venezuela since 1999.