US hits Venezuela with new sanctions

Bnamericas Published: Friday, May 10, 2019

The US has imposed fresh sanctions on shippers of Venezuelan crude oil in a move designed to further cripple the main revenue source of Nicolás Maduro's regime.

In a statement issued on Friday, the US treasury department said it blacklisted transport firms Marshall Islands-incorporated Monsoon Navigation and Liberia-based Serenity Maritime.

The ban extends to the companies' tanker ships – Monsoon's Ocean Elegance and Serenity's Leon Dias – which the US said have both transported Venezuelan crude to Cuba in the past six months.

The sanctions prohibit the firms and ships from dealings with US persons and companies, and freeze any of their US-based assets.

US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said the measures were a response to the arrest of members of the opposition-controlled national assembly.

He added that an executive order was amended to include Venezuela's armed forces and intelligence services in the sanctions.

“Treasury’s action today puts Venezuela’s military and intelligence services, as well as those who support them, on notice that their continued backing of the illegitimate Maduro regime will be met with serious consequences,” Mnuchin said.

Washington has announced a series of bans on vessels carrying Venezuelan oil since the start of April.

In January, Donald Trump barred Maduro from accessing oil assets worth US$7bn as part of a move that essentially blocked the sale of Venezuelan crude to the US market.

The US and more than 50 other countries have said they recognize national assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's interim president pending free and transparent elections.

Guaidó declared himself the interim head of state in January, citing three articles of the constitution to affirm Maduro's illegitimacy.

“The US will take further action if Cuba continues to receive Venezuelan oil in exchange for military support," Mnuchin said in Friday's statement. "As we have repeatedly said, the path to sanctions relief for those who have been sanctioned is to take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order.”

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