On Friday, February 15, the United States imposed additional sanctions on key government officials in Venezuela as part of its continued support for Juan Guaidó. The move comes less than three weeks after President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company.
“The United States remains steadfast in its support of Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido, the transitional government, and the Venezuelan people,” said Robert Palladino, the deputy spokesperson for the US Department of State, in a press statement. “We will continue to use the full weight of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.”
Last month, the United States recognized Guaidó, the leader of the National Assembly, as the interim president of Venezuela. Many Latin American and European countries have followed suit.
“While the United States is holding certain officials responsible for their actions repressing the Venezuelan people and subverting their democracy,” Palladino explained, “we reiterate our calls for the recognition of Juan Guaido as Interim President and call on all Venezuelan officials, including military and security forces, to help return Venezuela to the democratic country its citizens demand and deserve.”
Last month a high ranking air force general was the first to defect from the Maduro regime to support Guaidó.
In a press release, the Treasury Department lists five Venezuelan officials targeted by the new sanctions: the head of the Venezuelan National Intelligence Service, Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, and the First Commissioner, Hildemaro Jose Rodriguez Mucura; the Commander of Venezuela’s Directorate General of Military Counter-Intelligence, Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala; the Director of the Venezuelan National Police’s Special Actions Force, Rafael Enrique Bastardo Mendoza; and the President of PDVSA, Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez.
“Treasury continues to target officials who have helped the illegitimate Maduro regime repress the Venezuelan people. We are sanctioning officials in charge of Maduro’s security and intelligence apparatus, which has systematically violated human rights and suppressed democracy, including through torture and other brutal use of force,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “We are intent on going after those facilitating Maduro’s corruption and predation, including by sanctioning the President of PdVSA and others diverting assets that rightfully belong to the people of Venezuela.”