President Donald Trump signed an executive order freezing all assets of the Venezuelan government in the United States, Reuters reports, noting the move may open space for sanctions against companies doing business with the Maduro government.
“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of the Government of Venezuela that are in the United States … are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in,” Reuters quoted the executive order as saying. The order was not readily available at the White House website.
Under its terms, no U.S. company will be allowed to deal with the Venezuelan government. Russian and Chinese companies that still do business with Caracas may also become liable to penalties under the order, or so-called secondary actions.
Earlier, in a letter to Congress, Trump said the executive order was justified “in light of the continued usurpation of power by the illegitimate Nicolas Maduro regime, as well as the regime’s human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaido.”
The order came as a surprise even to people from conservative circles, Reuters also reported. What’s more, the news breaks soon after Washington extended a sanction waiver it had granted to Chevron so it could continue operating in Venezuela, suggesting the situation was edging closer to a resolution, as per a statement by Guaido’s ambassador to the United States.
The United States imposed sweeping sanctions against Venezuela’s oil industry at the start of this year. Since then, production had fallen drastically with no crude going to U.S. Gulf refineries—once Venezuela’s biggest market. As a result, the already serious humanitarian crisis in the country worsened further. However, the opposition led by Juan Guaido has failed to turn the military against Maduro, which most observers consider the only way to effect a regime change.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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