U.S. Sanctions Venezuelan President's Wife for Corruption

27 September, 2018, 15:28 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday Sept. 25 2018 at U.N. headquarters

The Trump administration has ratcheted up sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government that has stifled political opponents and presided over a dramatic economic collapse.

"We are continuing to designate loyalists who enable Maduro to solidify his hold on the military and the government while the Venezuelan people suffer", Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"Trump has said he's anxious about Venezuela and wants to help", Maduro said.

The Trump administration has, nonetheless, downplayed the possibility of a direct U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, despite concerns by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that an "October surprise" may be in the works.

First lady Cilia Flores, a lawyer and former attorney general who also ran Venezuela's legislature, frequently appears at public events with Maduro and is seen an important behind-the-scenes power broker. He then called on United Nations members to reject all forms of socialism.

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He said Maduro's socialism "has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty".

Maduro has been seeking a meeting with Trump for nearly two years and has watched with frustration as the United States leader has talked with American adversaries such as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian president Vladimir Putin while shunning Venezuelan entreaties.

Trump said in a Tuesday speech at the United Nations that the USA has begun an "economic pressure" campaign against Iran over its nuclear ambitions and behaviour in the region. He stands accused of authoritarianism over his crackdowns on protests and attempts to shut off opposition paths to power.

His desire for some sort of reconciliation with the USA has increased as global pressure has been building on his socialist government at a time of hyperinflation and widespread food and medicine shortages. Wednesday morning, even as Trump said he would meet with "anybody, anytime I can [to] save lives, help people", he reiterated that "all options are on the table, every one". The sanctions are meant to both send a signal to regular Venezuelans that corrupt elites can't keep their ill-gotten gains and to signal that Maduro's inner circle isn't abandoning him, meaning any possible regime change will have to come from another quarter, said Geoff Ramsey, a Venezuela researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America.

The U migration and refugees organisations said in a joint statement in August that 2.3 million Venezuelans are now living overseas and more than 1.6 million have left since 2015.

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As part of the actions announced Tuesday, the Treasury Department also seized a $20 million private jet belonging to an alleged front man for powerful socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello.

On Wednesday, presidents from several conservative Latin American governments are expected to meet in NY to sign a complaint with the International Criminal Court asking it to investigate Maduro on charges of crimes against humanity.

Maduro is the president of Venezuela.

Trump suggested that the Maduro regime could be "toppled very quickly" by Venezuela's military.

FILE PHOTO: Peruvian Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio talks to Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan (not pictured) during their meeting at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing, China, August 27, 2018.

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