Washington (AFP) – Venezuela is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis but US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday urged other governments to continue to restrict the country’s access to financing.
Mnuchin questioned the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro, saying he had destroyed the economy, refused humanitarian aid and seen an exodus of hundreds of thousands of citizens.
“Creditors, whether private or public, that provide new financing to the Maduro regime are lending to a government that lacks legitimacy to borrow in the name of Venezuela,” Mnuchin said in a statement following a meeting with officials from the Americas, Europe and Japan.
“Concrete actions are necessary to restrict the ability of corrupt Venezuelan officials and their support networks from abusing the international financial system.”
He also signaled that the governments would support a different regime in Caracas.
Officials “recognized that a government in Venezuela that warranted the support of the region, and was prepared to enact economic policies to reclaim Venezuela’s prosperity for its people, would receive the support of the international financial community.”
The countries agreed to coordinate their actions “such that the tools of the international community are prepared for swift deployment when circumstances warrant.”
Hyperinflation, scarcities of basic food and medicine, and skyrocketing violence are gripping Venezuela.
The International Organization for Migration says nearly a million Venezuelans have left the country over the past two years. Many head to Brazil, Colombia and Panama, and often beyond.
Mnuchin said Maduro’s “destruction of the economy has created a full-blown humanitarian crisis” that was spilling beyond Venezuela’s borders and “threatening regional stability and national security.”
The United States has imposed tough financial sanctions on Venezuelan officials and entities, which prevent them from accessing international credit through US markets, speeding the economic ruin in the once prosperous, oil-rich country.
Recovery from the crisis “will take time, and require significant external support,” Mnuchin said.
The countries at the meeting were Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain and Britain.