Venezuela: US Sanctions Target Presidential Allies

Larry Hoffman
September 30, 2018

"Venezuela is a very sad case and we want to see it fixed - what's happening there is a human tragedy", President Donald Trump told reporters in NY, ahead of his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence separately said on Tuesday the United States would provide an additional $48 million to "partners in the region" to confront the "humanitarian crisis" caused by the growing migration of Venezuelans.

In the midst of all the discussions held during the General Assembly of the United Nations, one of the most critical points has been the debate on the reality that the Venezuelan people live under the regime of Nicolás Maduro.

Despite his appearance, presidents of five Latin American governments and Canada met to "sign a complaint with the International Penal Court asking that Maduro is investigated for crimes against humanity", TIME reported.

Fernando Cutz, who served as adviser on South America until a year ago on the National Security Council, said at Washington's Wilson Center on Monday that a multilateral military intervention could be the best solution for Venezuela.

A group of US senators said on Tuesday they had introduced legislation seeking to address the crisis in Venezuela by, among other things, tightening sanctions and providing $40 million (£30.35 million) in humanitarian aid.

Upon arrival, Maduro held meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov - both of whose countries, like Venezuela, are under US financial sanctions.

The United States has imposed sanctions on former Venezuelan Vice President Tarek El Aissami and more than a dozen other government officials and allies of Maduro's since previous year.

Maduro also made another stab at setting up a meeting with Trump.

His comments came on the heels of a Tuesday speech at the U.N. General Assembly in whichTrump once again addressed the current situation in Venezuela.

"Venezuela has a tradition of being a peaceful nation".

Earlier in the day, Trump said he'd be willing to meet his longtime foe, but the White House said there were no immediate plans for such an encounter. "The strong ones and the less than strong ones - and you know what I mean by strong", he said.

Trump, under whose administration Venezuela has been hit with rounds of debilitating economic sanctions, did not rule out the meeting, but said it is not something that he's been giving any thought to.

Washington has sanctioned more than 60 current and former officials since 2015, including Maduro a year ago. "We are not going to be complicit", said Paraguayan Foreign Minister Andres Rodriguez Pedotti. The new regulation singles out Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez, Defense Minister Gen. Vladimir Padrino Lopez and Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez. But, given the country's divided opposition and a mostly loyal military, even that ramped-up US pressure is unlikely to be enough to end the rule of President Nicolás Maduro anytime soon.

Venezuela, along with Iran, has become one of the Trump's administration biggest targets.

Maduro's appearance at the General Assembly took many off guard. "Anytime I can save lives and help people, (even) if it's one life".

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