MIAMI (CBSMiami) – National Security Adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin formally announced sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA at a White House conference on Monday.
“The United States holds the perpetrators responsible for the tragic decline of Venezuela,” Secretary Mnuchin told reporters when announcing the sanctions.
Mnuchin explained that the sanctions would be effective “immediately” and that any purchase of Venezuelan oil by US entities will cause all the money to be deposited in blocked accounts.
Mnuchin said that PDVSA finds out about this just now, although Senator Marco Rubio made a statement praising the sanctions earlier Monday.
He said the Middle East will fill the gaps for Venezuela.
“Now is the time to defend prosperity and democracy in Venezuela,” Bolton told reporters, adding that the president “has made it very clear in this matter that all options are on the table.”
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In Miami, the Venezuelan Consul Scarlet Salazar said in a video statement that she is supporting the leader of the national assembly, interim president Juan Guaido.
Guaido declared that he had assumed presidential powers last week.
“At this moment we are awaiting instructions from our superior in Washington,” Salazar said Monday evening. “Once we have instructions we’ll invite you all for a press conference and interviews. But at this moment, that’s all I have.”
When asked why she was supporting Guaido, she said, “Because it’s important to support the historic moment, and this was a historic moment.”
Salazar was also asked if her family had been threatened, to which she said no.
Bolton once again urged the Venezuelan military to abandon Maduro and recognize Guaido’s legitimacy.
“We think stability and democracy in Venezuela are in the direct national security interests of the United States right now,” Bolton said.
The U.S. and several other nations have recognized Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
Maduro, who has been calling for dialogue, still has the support of the country’s military.
Political analysts contend Maduro had been paying off the more than 2,000 generals with proceeds from US sales of Venezuelan oil.