President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order on Friday banning Americans from dealing in Venezuelan government debt or that of its state-run oil company.
The move is expected to further cripple the ability of Venezuelan socialist elites to maintain lavish lifestyles while most of the populace suffers from the near-complete collapse of the economy under socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro.
“The President’s new action prohibits dealings in new debt and equity issued by the government of Venezuela and its state oil company,” a statement from the White House reads. “It also prohibits dealings in certain existing bonds owned by the Venezuelan public sector, as well as dividend payments to the government of Venezuela.”
The statement claimed that the new order would not harm the Venezuelan people.
“To mitigate harm to the American and Venezuelan people, the Treasury Department is issuing general licenses that allow for transactions that would otherwise be prohibited by the Executive Order,” the statement reads. “These include provisions allowing for a 30-day wind-down period; financing for most commercial trade, including the export and import of petroleum; transactions only involving Citgo; dealings in select existing Venezuelan debts; and the financing for humanitarian goods to Venezuela.”
Banks with pre-existing bonds – including Goldman Sachs, which bought $2.8 billion in Venezuelan bonds this year – will not be directly affected. However, the executive order prohibits the issuing of new bonds.
This action follows Vice President Mike Pence addressing a crowd of Venezuelans and Venezuelan-Americans at a church in Doral, South Florida this week, promising the Trump administration would act against the regime.
“Our resolve is unwavering; our conviction is clear,” Pence declared. “You may be assured: Under the leadership of President Donald Trump, the United States of America will continue to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela.”
“We hear you, we stand with you. We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,” he added.
Following Maduro’s decision to create an illegal alternate legislature known as the “national constituent assembly” (ANC) designed to consolidate his authority, the Trump administration placed personal sanctions on Maduro and 13 senior Venezuelan officials on grounds of human rights abuses, corruption, and undermining democracy.
The crisis in Venezuela has now reached a breaking point, with millions of people living in abject poverty as a result of skyrocketing rates of inflation that have left the country with chronic shortages of food, medicine, electricity, and sanitary products.
“The United States reiterates our call that Venezuela restore democracy, hold free and fair elections, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and end the repression of the Venezuelan people. We continue to stand with the people of Venezuela during these trying times,” the White House added.
This month, President Trump did not dismiss the possibility of military action on Venezuela.
“Venezuela is a mess, it is very dangerous mess, and a very sad situation,” Trump said. “We have many options for Venezuela, I’m not ruling out military options.”