Washington has once again raised the bar on Friday with the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, imposing sanctions on his head of diplomacy, which prompted the strong reaction of Russia, ally of Caracas.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has been ostracized from the international financial system (in dollars) and his US holdings have been frozen by the US Treasury, which placed the diplomat on his black list of financial sanctions.
“The Treasury will continue to target corrupt supporters in Maduro, including those in charge of diplomacy and justice on behalf of this illegitimate regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The US ministry has hinted that these officials “transfer and conceal the proceeds of corruption by trying to exploit the US financial system and its real estate market”.
As a result, “all the assets and interests of these individuals, who are in the United States or controlled by US nationals, are frozen,” said the Treasury which also imposed sanctions against a Venezuelan judge senior, Carol Padilla.
- “Laquais of Maduro” –
Jorge Arreaza responded on Twitter Friday, linking the news to his intervention the day before at the United Nations to denounce “the criminal blockade” of the United States against his country.
“The Trump administration is giving us a desperate answer today, the truth is hurting!” He wrote.
The head of the American diplomacy, meanwhile, called Mr. Arreaza “Maduro lackey” Mike Pompeo writing on Twitter that the Venezuelan foreign minister was the target of sanctions “for his attempts to hinder democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people “.
“But I know the Venezuelans, they will not be intimidated, and with the support of the main democracies of the world, they will restore democracy and rebuild the country,” said Pompeo.
Mr. Arreaza was appointed Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs in August 2017 after holding since 2010 several ministerial portfolios such as technology and industry or mining development.
In mid-April, he also denounced as “crimes against humanity” a previous salvo of American sanctions against the Venezuelan Central Bank.
- Blackmail, says Russia –
This denial of the financial system of the chief diplomat of Caracas has aroused the wrath of Moscow who denounced a “blackmail”.
“We urge the United States to return to international law, end the blackmail policy and stop provoking tensions in Venezuela from abroad,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. , saying “indignant” by the US decision.
“Washington has repeatedly demonstrated a categorical rejection of the methods of negotiation to resolve the situation,” the ministry said.
“This is the manifestation of an increasingly aggressive strategy by the United States aimed at discrediting international diplomacy and replacing it with dictates and cynical economic and political pressures,” he added.
The already strong antagonism between Washington and Nicolas Maduro’s government has intensified since the beginning of the year when opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself acting president and that some 50 countries, including the United States, have recognized it as such.
From Sunday, Caracas will also face a US embargo on its oil, which may aggravate the economic crisis but also push the country to depend even more on Russia and China. Oil represents 96% of Venezuela’s national income and the United States is a major consumer.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a 25% drop in GDP this year in Venezuela, as well as a hyperinflation of 10,000,000% and an unemployment rate of 44.3%. In 2000, this country ranked second among the economic powers of South America.