TEHRAN (defapress)- The US Treasury imposed sanctions on Venezuela's Economic and Social Development Bank and on four other institutions affiliated with it, calling in its statement for the release of Juan Guaido's Chief of Staff Roberto Marrero.
News ID: 76355
Publish Date: 23March 2019 - 17:59
While the move came as official US retaliation for Caracas' targeting the associates of the wannabe president, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin painted the Bank – known under its Spanish acronym BANDES – as the most vile organization and definitely worth sanctioning, World News reported.
“The willingness of Maduro’s inner-circle to exploit Venezuela’s institutions knows no bounds. Regime insiders have transformed BANDES and its subsidiaries into vehicles to move funds abroad in an attempt to prop up Maduro,” Mnuchin said in a statement.
On top of that, the official accused Venezuelan authorities of the “kidnapping, torture, and murder of Venezuelan citizens” and urged Caracas to release all “political prisoners”, including Marrero aide to the self-proclaimed president Guaido.
Venezuelan authorities arrested the chief of staff on Thursday during a raid on a "terrorist cell" that planned attacks on the country's officials. The government also released images of two rifles allegedly seized by the Venezuelan Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) during the raid on Marrero’s house. Guaido had earlier accused the security forces of ‘planting’ the weapons.
The opposition’s stance on the arrest was supported by the main sponsor of Guaido, the United States.
BANDES is a Venezuelan federal public company, associated with the Ministry of Finance, which was formed back in 2001. The bank focuses on financing projects, contributing towards development of the country – infrastructure, mass transportation, housing, industry and so on. One of the most notable projects involving BANDES was the launch in 2011 of the Chery Venezuela car factory in cooperation with China.
On January 23, Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president. Maduro, who was sworn in to his second presidential term on January 10 after winning the May election, which part of the opposition boycotted, called Guaido's move an attempt to stage a coup orchestrated by Washington.
The United States immediately recognized Guaido, after which some 50 other countries followed suit. Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, Cuba, Bolivia and a number of other states have, in the meantime, voiced their support for the legitimate government of constitutionally elected Maduro. Mexico and Uruguay have refused to recognize Guaido, declaring themselves neutral and promoting crisis settlement via dialogue.
Maduro has repeatedly accused the United States of openly pushing for a coup in the oil-rich Latin American country. Caracas has accused Washington of waging an economic war, which has led to hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine in Venezuela.
The US has been tightening and increasing sanctions on venezuela in recent months in an effort to squeeze Maduro’s government out of power, while Washington has called for regime change in favor of Guaido.
Also, the United States has reaffirmed that it is considering “all options” for Venezuela. President Donald Trump has stressed multiple times in recent months that he is not prepared to rule out US military action in the country.
On Tuesday, the US imposed new sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run mining company Minerven and Adrian Antonio Perdomo Mata, who heads the company, according to a statement posted by the US Treasury Department.
In a statement, the Treasury Department announced that it was targeting "the illicit gold operations that have continued to prop up the illegitimate regime" of "former" president Maduro.
In late January, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated that Washington has imposed sanctions against the Venezuelan state oil and gas company PDVSA, seizing $7 billion in assets.
Mnuchin said that the move is to “to help prevent the further diversion” of assets by “former president Maduro”.
Sanctions will be lifted upon the “expeditious transfer of control to the interim president, or the subsequently democratically elected interim government”, he added.