US puts sanctions on Venezuela
The sanctions do not touch Venezuelan-U.S. oil commerce. Venezuela is still one of the United States' top five sources of crude oil.

By Rick Docksai | Jan 10, 2018

The U.S. government slapped sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday following a Venezuelan legislative election last weekend that critics inside and outside Venezuela say was rife with fraud. The White House instituted the sanctions order, which bars U.S. citizens from doing business with Maduro and freezes any assets of his that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

The sanctions do not touch Venezuelan-U.S. oil commerce. Venezuela is still one of the United States' top five sources of crude oil.

But sources said that additional sanctions targeting Venezuela's oil industry could occur in the future, as well as sanctions targeting other high-ranking Venezuelan officials. Much will depend on how the Venezuelan government goes about implementing its new national legislature following the election.

"By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his (Maduro's) regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Last weekend, Maduro's government held an impromptu election for a new "Constitutional Assembly" that would replace the existing national legislature. Opposition parties command a plurality in the legislature, so Maduro's call for creating a new legislature sparked accusations of a power grab.

Those accusations intensified when the election resulted in a supermajority of representatives of Maduro's Socialist Party to this new assembly. Critics also noted that voter turnout appeared to be no more than 18.5% of the electorate.

The Trump administration also considered sanctions against Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino and Socialist Party number-two Diosdado Cabello, U.S. officials told Reuters. They added that they doubt that these sanctions against individuals will have much impact on Venezuela's economy, howeveronly broader sanctions targeting the country's financial and industrial sectors would have that effect, they said.

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