Washington imposes new financial sanctions against Venezuela

Trump Issues New Sanctions Against Venezuelan Dictator Starving His People

"And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option", he said.

It outlined a prohibition on dealings with new stocks and bonds issued by the Venezuelan government or its state-owned oil company and Citgo parent, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSO).

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While the executive order protects holders of many existing Venezuelan government and PDVSA bonds, it will make the refinancing of PDVSA's hefty debt burden hard and could further push the country toward financing from Russian Federation and China.

Venezuelans who oppose the regime argue that when banks buy the government's bonds, they extend a financial lifeline to a dictatorship.

He said the sanctions were crafted to strike a balance between targeted efforts aimed at cutting Maduro's ability to raise new money while also allowing some exceptions to ensure ordinary Venezuelans are not afflicted. "But if the country continues to embrace dictatorship, the economic pain could be ratcheted up".

But they stop short of cutting off US imports of Venezuelan oil that are crucial both to Venezuela's economy and USA oil refiners.

"Venezuela is not very far away".

The widely anticipated sanctions come days after Vice President Mike Pence hinted earlier this week that Washington would be ramping up pressure on Venezuela.

"The president is making sure that the USA financial system will not be complicit in any future further placement of debt that would allow the Venezuelan government to finance this abhorrent behavior", a senior administration official told reporters.

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.

"These sanctions are not against Venezuela, but rather the corrupt people who seek to sell the nation's assets at a discount", opposition lawmaker and economist Angel Alvarado said. The new sanctions are created to pressure the government to switch course.

Maduro is already struggling to combat widespread shortages and triple-digit inflation as oil production - the economy's lifeblood - has tumbled to its lowest level in more than two decades.

Venezuela has taken desperate steps to remain current on its debt throughout the economic crisis and the president has blamed his enemies for spreading rumors about any impending default.

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