The Trump administration on Monday wouldn’t rule out taking military action to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and rolled out crippling sanctions against his regime in its latest effort to pressure him into resigning.
National security adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced the sanctions, which are targeting Venezuela’s state-owned oil company — a potentially earth-shattering economic move that strips Maduro and his increasingly isolated government of its most important source of income along with $7 billion in assets.
If the sanctions don’t prompt Maduro’s resignation, Bolton said military intervention could be next.
“The President has made it clear that all options are on the table,” Bolton told reporters at the White House.
The sanctions announcement follows the unusual decision by the U.S. and other nations last week to recognize the opposition leader of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the interim president of Venezuela instead of Maduro, who was re-elected last year in an election widely seen as fraudulent. The once prosperous nation has been in an economic collapse, with several million citizens fleeing to neighboring countries.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the new sanctions do not target the people of Venezuela and will not affect humanitarian assistance, including medicine and medical devices that are “desperately needed after years of economic destruction under Maduro’s rule.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a vocal critic of Maduro, welcomed the sanctions against the oil company, Petroleos De Venezuela S. A.
“The Maduro crime family has used PDVSA to buy and keep the support of many military leaders,” Rubio said. “The oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and therefore the money PDVSA earns from its export will now be returned to the people through their legitimate constitutional government.”
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