Denouncing last month’s regional Venezuelan elections as irregular, the Trump administration imposed new individual sanctions Thursday against 10 Venezuelans it accused of undermining democracy, censoring the news media and engaging in the corrupt administration of government-run food programs.
The Treasury Department froze U.S. assets, banned U.S. travel and prohibited Americans from doing business with top allies of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, including his chief of staff, two sitting ministers and one of the all-powerful Constituent Assembly’s vice presidents.
“As the Venezuelan government continues to disregard the will of its people, our message remains clear: the United States will not stand aside while the Maduro regime continues to destroy democratic order and prosperity in Venezuela,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement obtained by the Miami Herald ahead of its planned release.
The Constituent Assembly swore in the winners of an Oct. 15 election the Treasury Department said was “marked by numerous irregularities that strongly suggest fraud” that helped Maduro’s ruling socialist party win a majority of governorships. The government ignored opposition calls for an independent audit of the results.
Thursday’s penalties brings to 40 the total number of Venezuelans sanctioned by the U.S. for undermining the South American country’s democracy — including Maduro himself, whom Mnuchin has labeled a “dictator.” All four pro-Maduro members of Venezuela’s five-member National Electoral Council are now on the list.
Photo credit: Ariana Cubillos, Associated Press