CARACAS – Venezuela’s Attorney General’s Office said on Thursday two prosecutors had been assigned to investigate alleged acts of treason by citizens who supported the United States’ latest round of economic sanctions against the Caribbean island.
“We’ve assigned ... two prosecutors from the AG’s office who are going to investigate these actions,” Attorney General Tarek William Saab said.
Speaking two days after the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) issued a decree to initiate a “historic trial” of those suspected of committing treason by supporting the sanctions, Saab said the probe also would focus on those who allegedly called for an outside military intervention.
In a press conference, the top prosecutor underscored the severity of the allegations against the opposition, which supported the sanctions but rejected US President Donald Trump’s remarks indicating he was weighing a possible “military option” to lift Venezuela out of its deep political and economic crisis.
“Sanctions against whomever – bums, human rights violators and looters of public funds – always will have our support in the absence of impartial justice in Venezuela,” the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) alliance said in a statement Sunday.
“There have been calls for the country’s economic suffocation. That harms everyone from the entrepreneur who wants to create jobs, generate wealth in a healthy and legitimate fashion, provide Venezuela with the goods it needs, to the humblest peasant,” said Saab, who was named attorney general by the ANC on Aug. 5.
Trump last Friday signed an executive order that bars dealings in new debt and equity issued by the Venezuelan government and that nation’s state oil company, PDVSA.
The measure also “prohibits dealings in certain existing bonds owned by the Venezuelan public sector, as well as dividend payments to the government of Venezuela,” the White House said.
The US, which had earlier imposed sanctions on top Venezuelan officials, including Maduro, applied those measures after the installation of the ANC, a plenipotentiary body made up only of the president’s allies.
Inaugurated early this month after a process boycotted by Maduro’s opponents, the ANC has assumed the functions of the unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, the only institution under the opposition’s control.
Maduro has touted the ANC as necessary to lift Venezuela, which had been racked by months of violent opposition-led protests, out of political deadlock and a deep economic crisis.
But Venezuela’s opposition, which has been stymied in its efforts to oust Maduro via a recall referendum, says it is merely a mechanism to increase the president’s stranglehold on power.