US hits Venezuelan oil company with sanctions
President Donald Trump’s executive order imposing a tough new sanctions on the Nicolás Maduro regime is being praised by Venezuelans in Miami, who hope it will “asphyxiate” the Venezuelan government financially and foster the long yearned for transition to democracy.
The order signed Monday bars Americans from doing business with Venezuelan government entities, including the Central Bank and Petroleos de Venezuela, as well as any individuals or groups controlled by them. It also denies U.S. entry to persons involved with the regime.
Ernesto Ackerman, president of Independent Venezuelan American Citizens, said the sanctions will affect government businesses that generate the resources it uses to finance its grip on power, based largely on repression.
“The measure will lock in Maduro, because he cannot do business with anyone in the world. It affects the narco-government in Venezuela because it will not have money for the colectivos [paramilitary groups], for repression and for military weaponry. These actions are completely necessary,” Ackerman told el Nuevo Herald.
Trump’s order is more useful for all Venezuelans who live in the country and suffer the consequences of the regime than would be, for example, U.S. approval of Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans living in the United States, who total only about 120,000, Ackerman added.
“I do not agree with TPS. Its approval would be a great help to the 120,000 Venezuelans who would benefit, who are already in the United States, but that would not help at all the 30 million Venezuelans who are suffering in Venezuela. That’s a political issue for Democrats who want to get votes,” he added.
Ackerman said Venezuelan Americans should focus on continuing to pressure the Trump administration so that it continues to sanction the Maduro regime until he leaves and makes way for a democratic transition.
José Colina, president of the group Politically Persecuted Venezuelans in Exile, agreed the embargo will take away the regime’s possibility of doing business in the United States and in other countries in order to continue its grip on power.
“I think it’s an appropriate measure because the regime will have no way to stay in power. ... It will asphyxiate it financially,” Colina told el Nuevo Herald.
He also argued that the embargo will block “corrupt Venezuelans who live in the United States from continuing to do fraudulent business with the tyranny in Venezuela.”
The activist added that the sanctions are an effective measure and said he hopes it will be followed by “a much more forceful action that finishes forcing Maduro out of power.”
He also urged European and other countries to adopt similar sanctions against Maduro.
Luis Corona, president of Venamerica, said the sanctions are positive because they fall within the framework of the actions and goals that the government of interim president Juan Guaidó is pushing in order to force Maduro to leave power.
“I believe it comes at the right time to raise awareness of the real situation facing the people of Venezuela,” he said. “The Venezuela problem is not resolved unless the usurpation of power ends.”
For Venezuelan Beatrice Rangel, an international consultant and member of the board of directors of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy, the sanctions will help the opposition in its negotiations with the Maduro regime.
“I think the measure is designed to twist the government’s neck, because it’s highly likely that it has been very rigid at the negotiating table,” Rangel said. “There is an international negotiation, but the U.S. is hitting Maduro really hard to finally agree to leave power.”
She added that although she favors the sanctions, they will likely affect Venezuelans already pummeled by hyperinflation as well as shortages of food, medicines and electricity.