US hits Venezuela state-owned oil company with sanctions

US hits Venezuela state-owned oil company with sanctions

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Monday applauded an expected decision by the Trump administration to impose sanctions against state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as pressure increases to cut sources of funding to Nicolás Maduro's regime.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday the new measures would cost Maduro $11 billion in lost export proceeds over the next year and block him from accessing PDVSA assets worth $7 billion.

Venezuela is in the middle of a power struggle, as socialist dictator Maduro is trying to fend off opposition leader Juan Guaido to maintain control of the nation.

The US, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Paraguay have officially acknowledged Guaido as the legitimate interim head of Venezuela, while Russia, Iran, Turkey and China, among many other countries, back Maduro.

That followed the United States' decision to hand control of Venezuela's USA bank accounts to Guaido, barring Maduro from accessing the funds. "They should bear responsibility for the serious consequences from this", he said.

The announcement Tuesday was the latest in a succession of moves created to steer power and resources to Guaido in the days since President Donald Trump declared President Nicolas Maduro's rule illegitimate and said the USA was now recognizing Guaido as interim leader. Kremlin said on Tuesday that US sanctions against Venezuela's PDVASA are illegal and naked interference in Venezuela's internal affairs. Russian Federation still backs Maduro. When asked if the USA had plans to intervene amid the unrest, Trump said of Venezuela, "We're not considering anything, but all options are on the table", CBS News reported.

Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela last week as protests against Nicolas Maduro intensified.

The U.S. State Department says American's shouldn't travel to Venezuela and it warns of unrest and the threat of being arbitrarily arrested. Such prepayment could be in violation of the sanctions, setting the stage for a standoff at the ports. He also pledged to retaliate, but did not announce any specific measures.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said historical experience showed foreign interference "only makes situations more complicated".

Traders at some major USA hedge funds said their lawyers advised them not to touch the bonds for now without further guidance from Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

PDVSA's US-based subsidiary Citgo will be able to continue operations, as long as its earnings are deposited into a blocked account in the United States.

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