The United States on Monday treated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as a “dictator” by comparing it with Syrian leaders Bashar al-Assad and North Korean Kim Jong-Un and imposed unprecedented sanctions on him in response to the Blood of a Constituent Assembly.
“Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who despises the will of the Venezuelan people,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by announcing in front of the White House press a “freezing” of “all assets” That the president of Venezuela would have in the United States.
“Maduro is not just a bad leader, he is now a dictator,” said General McMaster, General Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor along with Mr. Mnuchin.
It is extremely rare for the US government to sanction a foreign head of state in office.
Messrs. Munchin and McMaster stressed that Maduro was only the fourth president to be sanctioned by Washington, joining an “exclusive club” composed of Syrian presidents Bashar al-Assad, North Korean Kim Jong-un and Zimbabwean Robert Mugabe. This is the first time that the US administration also directly qualifies the Venezuelan head of state as a “dictator”. Donald Trump had estimated a few weeks ago that socialist Nicolas Maduro “dreamed of being a dictator” and American diplomacy on Sunday denounced a “step towards the dictatorship” and “architects of authoritarianism” of the Caracas regime.
Asked about the prospect of a regime change in Caracas, General McMaster said there was no coup d’etat in Venezuela but “a brutal oppression against his people.”
“By taking sanctions against Maduro, the United States clearly affirms (their) opposition to the policies pursued by its regime and (their) support to the Venezuelan people seeking a full, prosperous and full democracy for their country, “Added Minister Mnuchin.
In addition to sanctions against President Maduro – freezing assets and prohibiting any American citizen from trading with him – “anyone who participates in this illegitimate Constituent Assembly would be exposed to other US sanctions to undermine Venezuela’s democratic processes and institutions, The Treasury Secretary warned.
The Treasury also accused Caracas, in a statement, of “large-scale infringements of human rights (…) mismanagement of the economy and (…) corruption system”.
Venezuela was Monday more divided than ever, the day after the election in the blood of an all-powerful Constituent Assembly at the hands of President Maduro, the majority opposition in Parliament ensuring that it would continue to sit.
The United States has long taken a stand against the Venezuelan opposition and imposed sanctions last week against 13 former and current government officials. The State Department also ordered the families of its diplomats on Thursday to leave the country.
Washington and Caracas, which have lost their respective ambassadors since 2010 but whose relations have improved somewhat at the end of Barack Obama’s term, maintain close economic and trade ties, above all in the oil industry.
Asked about additional sanctions, including economic sanctions, Mnuchin and McMaster merely said that “all options were on the table” and that Washington “would continue to monitor the situation.” The Treasury secretary said however that the Trump administration “would do nothing that could affect the people of Venezuela”.