President Donald Trump signed an executive order rapping Venezuela with a series of sanctions this week in the United States’ latest effort to push President Nicolas Maduro to his economic breaking point.
Trump signed the order Thursday, effectively prohibiting U.S. transactions with the Maduro regime and Venezuelan state-run oil giant PSVDA.
The White House said the new sanctions were designed to hit the Maduro dictatorship where it hurt, hoping to drain Maduro’s finances as his country turns to ruin.
"These measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule, protect the United States financial system from complicity in Venezuela's corruption and in the impoverishment of the Venezuelan people, and allow for humanitarian assistance," the White House said in a statement.
Maduro seemed to agree with White House officials that more sanctions would mean a great despair for his country. He told reporters incoming sanctions would cripple Venezuela’s economy and promised he would protect the Venezuelan people from any disastrous effects of the sanctions.
"The economic measures the U.S. government is preparing will worsen Venezuela's economic situation," Maduro told foreign journalists this week.
The new sanctions bar dealing in new debt and equity issued by the Venezuelan government and would also prohibit dividend payments to the Venezuelan government and ban dealings in certain already-existing bonds.
Exemptions will be made for oil imports and exports and for transactions involving PSVDA’s American counterpart, Citgo, which provides oil to the United States.
Trump’s executive order quickly gained steam among South Florida politicians who have previously supported whacking the Maduro regime with sanctions.
U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen all chimed in with their support of the newly-issued sanctions.
“The financial sanctions against the dictatorship of @NicolasMaduro announced today by the U.S. Government are very deserved,” wrote Rep. Curbelo on Twitter Friday. “Freedom for Venezuela.”
“Preventing Maduro and his cronies access to the U.S. financial systems is vital and barring Citgo from transferring any profits to PDVSA reaffirms America’s commitment to the Venezuelan people in their continued push for freedom and democracy,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement Friday.
Diaz-Balart praised Trump’s decision to rap the South American country with sanctions.
“I commend @POTUS for once again imposing tough sanctions against the Maduro regime,” he wrote on Twitter. “The US stands in firm solidarity w/ people of Venezuela.”
Both of Florida’s U.S. senators said they favored the sanctions and getting tough on the Maduro regime.
“I never had any doubt that President Trump would take the decisive and significant measures he promised, and I’m glad to see him take a course of action in line with what I have been advocating for,” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said in a statement to the Miami Herald Friday. “This measure will go a long way toward preventing the Maduro regime from using Wall Street to finance its repression and tyranny.”
Florida’s Democratic senator Bill Nelson, however, said there was still much more to be done on Venezuelan sanctions.
“These new sanctions are a step in the right direction, but they don’t go far enough,” he said. “The administration needs to ban at least some of the oil being imported into the U.S., until constitutional democracy has been restored in Venezuela.”