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Monday, May 28, 2018

Trump limits Venezuelan government's ability to sell state assets

Por Rory

US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order to limit Nicolás Maduro's government's ability to sell state assets, including public debt and bonds of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, in an attempt to further restrict its capacity to financing. The US government made this decision after the presidential elections on Sunday, which they described as "farce" and in which Maduro was re-elected with 6.1 million votes.

"We call for the [Government of Maduro] to restore democracy, hold free and fair elections, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and put an end to the repression and economic deprivation of the Venezuelan people," Trump said through a statement. The US president added that the executive order approved on Monday aims to protect money "that belongs to the Venezuelan people," which in turn "has suffered immensely" under Maduro's Administration. In a telephone conference with journalists, senior officials of the Trump administration explained that these actions are intended to prevent Maduro from selling Venezuelan public assets in exchange for bribes.

Thus, the executive order prohibits any citizen, institution or US company from acquiring Venezuelan debt or assets and property belonging to the Government of Venezuela in the United States, including those investments derived from Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). However, the sanctions do not directly attack Venezuela's oil transactions, so the US does not prevent the Venezuelan oil from being traded in the country. Minutes before the new sanctions, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Trump government would take action on the matter and called the Venezuelan elections a "farce." "The election of Venezuela was a farce. The United States is against the dictatorship and with the people of Venezuela asking for free and fair elections," Pence said from his Twitter social network account. “The US will not sit idly by while Venezuela collapses," he added.

Trump's executive order "closes another avenue of corruption," said a senior Trump administration official, who called the Maduro government the largest "kleptocracy" ever seen in the region. "We will not be part of the transactions with this dictatorial regime." The administration of Trump, which in the last year has sanctioned more than 50 officials from Maduro's political environment, including the president, announced the signing of the executive order shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that Washington was going to take "quick economic and diplomatic actions" aimed at "restoring" Venezuelan democracy.

With a participation that is projected at 48%, the presidential elections of this Sunday gave the victory to the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Nicolás Maduro, who will govern a second term after obtaining more than six million votes. After the first counts confirmed his re-election with 68% of the votes, Maduro made a call to the National Electoral Council (CNE) to address the complaints of the losing candidates and audit 100% of the voting machines in the presence of international experts.