The Trump administration imposed sanctions Wednesday on eight more Venezuelan officials, including the brother of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, punishing them for their roles in President Nicolas Maduro‘s creation of a new Constituent Assembly.
The actions by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will result in freezing all assets of the eight officials subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and American citizens are prohibited from dealing with them.
“I support the Administration’s imposition of a new round of sanctions against corrupt individuals involved in organizing or supporting the illegitimate and anti-democratic Constituent Assembly in Venezuela,” Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio responded. “Given the Maduro regime’s continued assault on democracy in Venezuela, the time has now come for the president to act on his promise to impose significant economic sanctions on the Maduro dictatorship.”
Washington slapped sanctions on Maduro himself last week, a day after the Constituent Assembly was sworn in. That same day Maduro ousted Attorney General Luisa Marvelia Ortega Diaz, who had ordered an investigation into possible fraud in the Constituent Assembly vote.
Most countries worldwide have dubbed the election fraudulent and say the Constituent Assembly is a sign of a dictatorship.
The Trump administration says harsher sanctions could come if the political situation continues to deteriorate. Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson hinted that the U.S. could impose a ban on Venezuelan oil, the country’s sole source of income.
However, such a move would likely only further hurt the Venezuelan people, making the South American nation’s food and medical shortage worse than it already is.
In Florida, more than 93,000 Venezuelan-Americans voted last month in a nonbinding straw poll, in advance of the Venezuelan vote on the Constituent Assembly.
Earlier this week, Nelson criticized Gov. Rick Scott for backtracking on a proposal to crack down on state money flowing to organizations or investments that could benefit the Venezuelan government.