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US Imposes First Economic Sanctions Against Venezuela

US Imposes First Economic Sanctions Against Venezuela

For the first time, the US has imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela. They prohibit USA financial institutions from engaging in any new financial deals with the Venezuelan government or state-run oil company PDVSA.

The White House said its sanctions were "calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing" while allowing for some humanitarian exceptions.

But he warned that "sacrifices" will be required to free Venezuela from the "blackmail" of the dollar and American financial system that he said are out of step with the U.S.' diminishing role in the world economy.

The announcement Friday is likely to worsen Venezuela's economic depression, which has resulted in mass demonstrations against Maduro's government and a hardline crackdown on the country's political opposition.

"The birthright of the Venezuelan people has always been and will always be libertad", he wrote, using the Spanish word for freedom.

The order also permits the Treasury Department to help finance humanitarian aid for Venezuela citizens.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza blasted the move, saying "today's financial sanctions are the worst aggression towards Venezuela in the last 200 years".

At U.N. headquarters, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters: "We have had no choice but to turn around and do the sanctions to get their attention".

In a statement, the White House stated that it couldn't "stand by as Venezuela crumbles". The sanctions bar U.S. banks for making new deals with the Venezuelan government or the country's state run oil company.

Alejandro Jesus Rebolledo, a Venezuelan judge who fled the country recently, also accused the government of crimes such as money laundering and drug trafficking. Petroleos de Venezuela SA has been preparing for Del Pino's departure for several months.

On Friday, journalists were invited to a shooting range at Caracas' main military base to watch as troops taught a handful of civilian government supporters how to fire assault weapons.

Despite vast oil reserves, the South American country of 31 million people has widespread shortages of food and basic necessities, along with triple-digit inflation.

Trump has even raised the possibility of military action in Venezuela, although the White House seems to have focused more on economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Vice President Mike Pence telegraphed Friday's action during a speech Wednesday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral, Florida.

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