Treasury Sanctions the President of Venezuela

treasury7/31/2017
Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13692, which authorizes sanctions against current or former officials of the Government of Venezuela and others undermining democracy in Venezuela. These sanctions come a day after the Maduro government held elections for a National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, or ANC) that aspires illegitimately to usurp the constitutional role of the democratically elected National Assembly, rewrite the constitution, and impose an authoritarian regime on the people of Venezuela. As such, it represents a rupture in Venezuela’s constitutional and democratic order. The Maduro administration has proceeded with the ANC even though Venezuelans and democratic governments worldwide have overwhelmingly opposed it as a fundamental assault on the freedoms of the Venezuelan people. The creation of the ANC follows years of Maduro’s efforts to undermine Venezuela’s democracy and the rule of law.

As a result of today’s actions, all assets of Nicolas Maduro subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with him.

“Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people. By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. “Anyone who participates in this illegitimate ANC could be exposed to future U.S. sanctions for their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela.”

Nicolas Maduro was elected President of Venezuela on April 14, 2013, following the death of former President Hugo Chavez. Maduro held previous roles in the Venezuelan government, including as Executive Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Under Maduro, the Venezuelan government has deliberately and repeatedly abused the rights of citizens through the use of violence, repression, and criminalization of demonstrations. At his direction, the regime’s security forces have systematically repressed and criminalized opposition parties through arbitrary detention, military prosecution of civilians, and the excessive use of force against demonstrators. Any member of the opposition or critic of the regime risks being detained, imprisoned, assaulted, tortured, and assassinated.

In addition to committing widespread human rights abuses, Maduro’s regime has mismanaged the economy and engaged in systemic corruption. Despite having among the world’s largest oil reserves, tens of millions of Venezuelans are going hungry because the Government refuses to import sufficient food for the Venezuelan people, engages in rampant corruption around currency and the exchange rate regime, and rejects offers of humanitarian aid.

Treasury undertook the action, in consultation with the State Department, pursuant to Executive Order 13692. The U.S. government and democratic governments worldwide continue to call on the Venezuelan government to halt the ANC process and allow Venezuela’s democratic processes and institutions to function as intended. We urge those who were elected to the Constituent Assembly to decline to take office.

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.