U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said one day after the U.S. placed a full economic embargo against Venezuela the U.S. can now sanction anyone who supports the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to freeze all Venezuelan government assets in the U.S. — the toughest sanctions on Maduro’s government so far.
In a speech Tuesday in Lima, Peru at a summit on Venezuela, Bolton said the U.S. is “sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: proceed with extreme caution. There is no need to risk your business interests with the United States for the purposes of profiting from a corrupt and dying regime.”
Bolton called on world leaders at the International Conference on Democracy in Venezuela to take tougher action to oust Maduro, whom he accused pretending to negotiate in good faith in order to buy time.
“The time for dialog is over. Now is the time for action,” Bolton said. “Maduro is at the end of rope.”
Bolton also touted the success of previous economic embargoes in Panama and Nicaragua and denounced China’s and Russia’s support for Maduro.
“We say again to Russia, and especially to those who control its finances: Do not double down on on a bad bet. To China, which is already desperate to recoup its financial losses, the quickest route to getting repaid is to support a new legitimate government.”
The Venezuelan government responded to the new sanctions Tuesday, describing them as a “grave aggression” that will lead to “the failure of political dialog.”
Maduro’s government also said the economic embargo is meant to “formalize the criminal economic, financial and commercial blockade” of Venezuela and “strangle” its population.
The head of Russia’s upper house international affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, said the U.S. action amounts to “international banditry” and represents an “open meddling into Venezuela’s international affairs.”
With the tougher sanctions, Venezuela joins Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria as the only other countries under a similar full U.S. embargo.
The U.S. has been increasing the economic and diplomatic pressure on Maduro, who has refused to give up power despite a popular uprising against his authoritarian government.
Trump said last week he is considering a blockade or quarantine of Venezuela. He gave no details of such plans but has always said military action in Venezuela remains on the table.
Russia and Cuba have already sent forces to Venezuela in support of Maduro.
The U.S. was the first of about 50 countries to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, after he used his constitutional power as National Assembly leader to declare Maduro’s presidency illegitimate.
Guaido claimed Maduro’s re-election last year was fraudulent. He led a popular uprising against Maduro earlier this year.
The collapse in world energy prices, corruption and failed socialist policies have wrecked oil-rich Venezuela’s economy and millions have fled the country amid severe shortages of fuel, quality medical care and many food staples.