Eight more Venezuelans tied to President Nicolás Maduro’s government, including the brother of the late President Hugo Chávez, were hit Wednesday with U.S. financial sanctions over their involvement with the South American country’s newly inaugurated legislative superbody, which the international community has decried as the start of a dictatorship.
The Trump administration will freeze U.S. assets, ban U.S. travel and prohibit Americans from doing business with the newly sanctioned Venezuelans, who are current and former government members and a leader of Maduro’s security forces, which the U.S. has accused of violently repressing dissent.
The eight people are: Adán Chávez, brother of the late president and former governor of the state of Barinas; Francisco Ameliach, governor of the state of Carabobo and leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV); Tania D’Amelio Cardiet, member of the National Electoral Council; Hermann Escarrá, constitutional attorney and constituent assembly delegate; Erika Farías, minister for urban agriculture; Bladimir Lugo Armas, colonel with the Bolivarian National Guard and head of legislative palace security accused of being involved “in several acts of violence” against opposition lawmakers in parliament; Carmen Meléndez Rivas, constituent assembly delegate; Ramón Darío Vivas Velasco, constituent assembly delegate and PSUV leader.
They will join Maduro, Vice President Tareck El Aissami and 20 other current and former members of the Venezuelan government, military and judiciary who have been sanctioned as the oil-rich country’s democracy crumbles. The pace of sanctions has quickened after four months of deadly street unrest following an economic collapse that resulted in widespread food and medicine shortages.
“President Maduro swore in this illegitimate constituent assembly to further entrench his dictatorship, and continues to tighten his grip on the country,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “This regime’s disregard of the will of the Venezuelan people is unacceptable, and the United States will stand with them in opposition to tyranny until Venezuela is restored to a peaceful and prosperous democracy.”
Photo credit: Ariana Cubillos, Associated Press