The Trump administration has applied more pressure on Venezuela’s president, Nicol?s Maduro, announcing sanctions against the country’s state-owned oil giant PDVSA in what the US national security adviser, John Bolton, admitted was partly an attempt to counter strategic threats from Cuba and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran Press/Americas: At a briefing in the White House, the US treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, told reporters the sanctions would help punish “those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline” and boost Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader who last week declared himself Venezuela's interim president.

“It is a complete tragedy to have a humanitarian crisis in a country that has very rich resources,” Mnuchin said according to the Guardian.

The sanctions – which represent the US’s toughest economic move against President Nicolas Maduro to date – come five days after Guaido's dramatic declaration sparked a political crisis.

The national security adviser, John Bolton, said $7 billion of PDVSA assets would be immediately blocked as a result of the sanctions while the company would also lose an estimated $11 billion in export proceeds over the coming year.

Bolton even claimed the sanctions were an attempt to alleviate “the poverty and the starvation and the humanitarian crisis” currently gripping Venezuela.

President Maduro hit back in a live broadcast to the nation from the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas.

“This group of extremists that have stormed the White House have no limits,” he said, attacking the “belittlement, disdain and aggression” with which he claimed “Donald Trump’s unfit government” treated Venezuela.

Asked if there was any possibility of US troops getting involved in the Venezuelan crisis, Bolton replied: “Look, the president has made it very clear on this matter that all option are on the table.” Any violence against Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition or US diplomatic staff “would be met by a significant response”.


In his televised broadcast Maduro accused Bolton and Trump of seeking to destroy his “Bolivarian” administration through a coup that risked plunging Venezuela into conflict and bloodshed.

“I hold Donald Trump responsible for any violence that might come to pass in Venezuela. It will be you, señor presidente Donald Trump, responsible for this policy of regime change in Venezuela, and the blood that might flow in Venezuela will be on your hands … You will have your hands covered in blood, if you lead Venezuela into partial or generalised violence.”

Earlier on Monday, Pope Francis said he feared bloodshed in Venezuela.

Speaking on the papal plane as he returned from a five-day visit to Panama, the pope told reporters: “In this moment, I support all the Venezuelan people because they are a people who are suffering."

In the latest sign of coordination between Guaidó and the White House, Guaidó also announced on Monday plans to name a new board for state-owned oil giant, PDVSA. 

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