The Venezuelan foreign ministry has accused the United States of a “crime against humanity” after the Trump administration ordered the banning of Americans from investing in the country’s oil-backed cryptocurrency.
The order, signed by Trump on Monday, prohibits “all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in, by a United States person or within the United States, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token, that was issued by, for, or on behalf of the Government of Venezuela on or after January 9, 2018.”
According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the move is designed to prevent the Venezuelan government from bypassing previous economic sanctions targeting the country’s oil industry.
“With these actions Trump’s administration … is committing a crime against humanity that may be regarded by the International Criminal Court as a violation of the Article 7 of the Rome Statute,” the Venezuelan foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The [sanctions] are new imperial aggression aimed at financial persecution and economic boycott as well as pushing our economy into chaos and destroying the will of our people to live in freedom, peace, and hope,” it continued.
The currency, backed by the country’s natural resources, has already been declared illegal by Venezuela’s National Assembly, who branded it an illegitimate attempt to mortgage the country’s oil reserves to keep the increasing despotic regime in power.
The move is the latest action by the Trump administration to exert pressure the Maduro regime, which continues to degrade democratic institutions while overseeing the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in the country’s history. Last month, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested that the administration could block all sales of Venezuelan oil in a bid to squeeze the regime even further.
Taking inspiration from the former leader Hugo Chávez, who built his reputation are making grandiose threats against what he described as “an imperialist empire,” the Maduro regime has responded to pressure by escalating their rhetoric against the U.S. and other international powers.
Following threats from Trump over the possibility of a military solution to the crisis, Maduro even warned his soldiers to prepare for war with America.
“We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace,” Maduro declared at a military parade last September. “We need to have rifles, missiles, and well-oiled tanks at the ready … to defend every inch of the territory if need be.”