Hugo Chavz’s brother among eight Venezuelans placed under US sanctions
Fresh sanctions aim to punish individuals for their role in creating President Maduros new constituent assembly, which has been widely condemned
The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on eight more Venezuelan officials, including the brother of late socialist leader Hugo Chvez, to punish them for their role in President Nicols Maduros creation of a new legislative superbody, US officials said.
The US targeted individual politicians and security figures but stopped short of placing broader financial or sectoral sanctions on its vital oil industry though such actions, the officials told Reuters, are still under consideration.
The new measures announced by the Treasury Department will freeze their US assets, ban them from travel to the US and prohibit Americans from doing business with them. Washington slapped sanctions on Maduro himself last week following similar action against 13 Venezuelan figures on 26 July.
The sanctions marked a further escalation of the US response to Maduros establishment last week of the new constituent assembly, an all-powerful body run by his Socialist party loyalists and which has drawn international condemnation.
President Maduro swore in this illegitimate constituent assembly to further entrench his dictatorship, and continues to tighten his grip on the country, US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. This regimes disregard for 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.
Most prominent among those targeted on Wednesday was Adn Chvez, 64, a physicist and late president Hugo Chavezs elder brother. He is former culture minister, served for nearly a decade as governor of his home state of Barinas and is now secretary of the new assemblys presidential commission.
Also facing sanctions was Bladimir Armas, a national guard colonel accused by government critics of human rights abuses.
The latest measures were intended to make good on the Trump administrations threats to sanction anyone who helped create or joined the new assembly. The US government accused all eight of participating in actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Venezuela.
Donald Trumps administration is continuing to weigh possible sanctions against more senior figures, including Venezuelan defense minister Vladimir Padrino and Socialist party No 2 Diosdado Cabello, and they could be included in future sanctions packages if Maduro does not change course, the US officials told Reuters.
But experts say individual sanctions, while providing strong symbolism, have had little or no impact on Maduros policies.
The US has held off from imposing broader sanctions on Venezuelas oil industry, mindful of the potential not only for deepening the suffering of the Venezuelan people but also the risk of causing problems for US companies and consumers.