By Heather Long
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro celebrates election results after a national vote on his proposed Constituent Assembly at Plaza Bolivar in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 31. (Nathalie Sayago/European Pressphoto Agency).
The White House on Monday issued sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, freezing his U.S. assets and prohibiting Americans from dealing with him.
The sanctions come after Maduro’s regime on Sunday went through with a controversial vote to replace Venezuela’s current legislature with a new body more loyal to Maduro. President Trump and other world leaders had warned Maduro of “swift” consequences if he held the election, which many observers saw as an illegitimate bid by the embattled regime to consolidate power over a country in crisis.
“Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday. “By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime.”
The sanctions on Maduro come mere days after the United States placed similar sanctions on 13 top Venezuelan government officials.
“This is a really big escalation in pressure,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg, a former U.S. Treasury official under President Obama.
The Trump administration stopped short of imposing any sanctions on Venezuela’s critical oil industry. Venezuela accounts for 10 percent of U.S. oil imports.