US Treasury Department imposes sanctions on Venezuelan foreign minister

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Caracas, on...

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Caracas, on January 28, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, the latest in a list of officials blacklisted by Washington as part of attempts to ramp up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro and his legitimate government.

The sanctions were announced in a statement on the department’s website on Friday, also targeting a senior Venezuelan judge, Carol Padilla, accused by the US of having a role in the ongoing crisis in the Latin American country.

The United States "will continue to target corrupt Maduro insiders, including those tasked with conducting diplomacy and carrying out justice on behalf of this illegitimate regime," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

Mnuchin also announced that any US assets belonging directly or indirectly to the two Venezuelan officials would be blocked.

The United States has already imposed numerous rounds of sanctions against Venezuela following the recent political developments in the country.Venezuela has been shaken by political unrest in the past several months. In January, tensions worsened after opposition politician and president of the defunct National Assembly Juan Guaido abruptly declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela, challenging the outcome of last year’s presidential election, in which Maduro emerged victorious.

US President Donald Trump immediately recognized that self-proclamation. Ever since, the US has been escalating tensions against oil-rich Venezuela, and has not ruled out the military option to take out Maduro’s government.

The Venezuelan military has reaffirmed its support for Maduro despite the US threats.

Maduro has repeatedly accused Washington of openly pushing for a coup in the oil-rich Latin American country by confiscating its state oil assets based in the US and channeling them to Guaido.

Caracas has accused Washington of waging an economic war, which has led to hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine in Venezuela.

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