by VOA News
U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States — the toughest sanctions on Nicolas Maduro’s government so far.
“All property and interests in property of the government of Venezuela that are in the United States … are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, or otherwise dealt in,” Trump’s executive order late Monday said.
There has been no response so far from the Venezuelan government, which joins Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria as the only other countries under a similar full U.S. embargo.
The United States has been increasing the economic and diplomatic pressure on Maduro, who has refused to give up power despite a popular uprising against his authoritarian government.
Trump said last week he is considering a blockade or quarantine of Venezuela. He gave no details of such plans but has always said military action in Venezuela remains on the table.
Russia and Cuba have already sent forces to Venezuela in support of Maduro.
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to outline the economic embargo in Lima, Peru on Tuesday, in a speech at the International Conference on Democracy in Venezuela. Bolton is expected to denounce China’s and Russia’s support for Maduro and emphasize the success of previous economic embargoes in Panama and Nicaragua.
The United States was the first to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, after he used his constitutional power as National Assembly leader to declare Maduro’s presidency illegitimate.
Guaido claimed Maduro’s re-election last year was fraudulent. He led a popular uprising against Maduro earlier this year.
The collapse in world energy prices, corruption and failed socialist policies have wrecked oil-rich Venezuela’s economy and millions have fled the country amid severe shortages of fuel, quality medical care and many food staples.