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National security adviser Bolton threatens Venezuela with more sanctions

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March 6 (UPI) — The United States is pursuing initiatives, and threatening more sanctions, in support of a transition of power in Venezuela, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Wednesday.

Foreign financial institutions involved “in facilitating illegitimate transactions that benefit [Venezuelan President] Nicolas Maduro and his corrupt network” will face sanctions, Bolton said in a statement.

“We will not allow Maduro to steal the wealth of the Venezuelan people,” he added.

National Assembly leader Juan Guaido has said he is acting as interim president according to Venezuelan law. He has said this occurred after the National Assembly declared the presidency vacant in January. The presidency was declared vacant on grounds Maduro’s 2018 re-election, which the opposition did not take part in, was illegal due to abnormally low voter turnout.

After Maduro called for protests against the U.S. in Caracas on Saturday, his government rejected the the U.S. decision to extend for another year an executive order declaring Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat against U.S. security.”

More than 50 countries including the United States, Canada, as well as most European and Latin American nations, consider Guaido as the legitimate president. However, several countries — including Russia and China — recognize Maduro as president. Maduro is backed by the Venezuelan military.

Last month, the United States imposed sanctions so companies based in the United States, including Citgo, which is the U.S.-based subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil PDVSA, could only purchase Venezuelan PDVSA oil as long as any revenue would only be made available to Guaido.

Maduro’s government replied with an announcement earlier this week that it plans to relocate its European offices from Lisbon, Portugal, to Moscow. Venezuela has also sought alternative buyers for crude oil it normally ships to the United States.

On Jan. 31, Bolton warned against trading in Venezuelan commodities.

The United States has also announced sanctions against Maduro and the top government officials, as well as top military officers, so that any assets they may own in the U.S. could be seized.

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