Aug 6, 2019.WASHINGTON – President Trump signed an executive order on Monday imposing new economic sanctions on the government of Venezuela, escalating his campaign to remove President Nicolás Maduro from office.
The White House announced the action, which freezes the property and assets of the Venezuelan government and those of any individuals who assist Venezuelan officials affected by the order, on the eve of an international conference on Venezuela in Lima, Peru.
Several Trump officials, including the national security adviser, John R. Bolton, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, are scheduled to attend the gathering, which will discuss ways to “Restore democracy” to Venezuela, according to Peru’s government.
Mr. Trump’s order cited “The continued usurpation of power” by Mr. Maduro as well as “Human rights abuses, including arbitrary or unlawful arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, interference with freedom of expression, including for members of the media, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaidó and the Venezuelan National Assembly’s exercise of legitimate authority in Venezuela.”
Several sanctions experts on Monday night questioned initial news media reports that characterized the action as a total “Embargo” on Venezuela.
After Mr. Trump responded affirmatively to a reporter’s question last week about whether he was considering an embargo against Venezuela, an angry Mr. Maduro said on state television Friday that such a move would be “Clearly illegal.” Mr. Maduro said he had asked Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations to protest the threat at the United Nations Security Council.
Mr. Trump has happily embraced Venezuela’s socialist government as a political talking point, repeatedly citing its devastated economy as a cautionary tale of what he says Democrats would do if they were to win power in the United States.